Vietnam considers partial resumption of international flights

By Hoang Phong    May 7, 2020 | 09:10 pm PT
Vietnam considers partial resumption of international flights
Aircraft of Vietnam Airlines at Noi Bai Airport, Hanoi, March 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Airlines.
The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) is proposing a partial lifting of the suspension on international flights starting June 1.

It has mentioned the need to revive the hit-hard aviation industry in rationalizing its proposal.

Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The has asked CAAV and the ministry's Department of Transport to study the resumption of international flights with limited frequency, giving priority to foreign experts and investors, while ensuring strict maintenance of anti-pandemic measures.

The move comes after Vietnam has gone 22 clean days without coronavirus community transmission and Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has allowed resumption of more "non-essential" businesses except karaoke parlors and discos.

The PM has also asked localities to accord top priority to economic recovery.

Vietnam has banned entry of foreign nationals since March 22 and international flights have been suspended since March 25. In certain special cases, as in those with diplomatic or official passports, or coming for special economic projects, foreigners are allowed entry, but they need to present a Covid-19 free certificate from a recognized authority in the country of embarkation and must undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Vietnamese carriers on Thursday were allowed to remove social distancing restrictions on aircraft and limitations on the number of passengers. Passengers were previously required to sit one seat apart, except for families and people booking tickets together.

Dinh Viet Thang, director of CAAV, said local market and international market would recover by the middle of 2021 and the end of 2021 respectively. According to the transport ministry's estimate, the number of air passengers this year could fall by 46 percent to 43 million.

Due to the international flight ban, Vietnam received 3.7 million foreign visitors in Jan-April, a 38 percent drop year-on-year and the tourism industry earned revenues of VND7.9 trillion ($337 million) during the period, down 45 percent.

Vietnam’s infection tally rose to 288 after 17 Vietnamese repatriated from the UAE were confirmed positive on Thursday night.

The country has more than 16,500 people in quarantine, those that have returned from abroad and those who have come in contact with the returnees. Of these, 162 are quarantined at hospitals, 6,600 are staying at centralized camps and the rest at home or other accommodation facilities.

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