|Passengers on domestic flights have to continue following a strict protocol of safety measures. Photo: Duc Thanh|
On October 12, national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines enjoyed its first commercial flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang after local authorities gave the green light for the resumption of domestic commercial flights.
This was one of nine commercial flights Vietnam Airlines conducted on the same day between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Dong Hoi, Phu Quoc, and Danang. A day earlier, the carrier also operated a total of six commercial flights.
According to the Ministry of Transport (MoT), the aviation sector launched its recovery plan for the domestic air segment on October 10, with 19 air routes in a pilot over 11 days. The MoT will assess the situation and submit possible adjustments to the government for the next stage.
Passengers must be fully vaccinated or own certificates of recovery from COVID-19 within six months dating from the departure time; and must have had a negative SARS-CoV-2 test within the 72 hours before boarding, as well as strictly abide by the prevention and control regulations.
Vietnam Airlines now plans to reopen 14 domestic air routes, resuming commercial flights between most of Vietnam's larger cities.
The two units of Vietnam Airlines – Vietnam Air Services Company (VASCO) and Pacific Airlines – also announced their resumption plans.
On October 13, VASCO operated the Ho Chi Minh City-Rach Gia commercial flight after a long-term suspension, while Pacific Airlines now plans to reopen 12 routes.
Together with Vietnam Airlines, private-run Bamboo Airways resumed 12 domestic air routes to Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Dinh, Danang, Hue, Khanh Hoa, and other localities from October 10.
The other privately-run budget airline Vietjet restarted 15 domestic air routes from the same day to Ho Chi Minh City, Haiphong, Danang, Quy Nhon, Vinh, Thanh Hoa, Chu Lai, and Hue, among others.
Nguyen Thanh Son, deputy general director of Vietjet, told VIR, "Vietjet will reopen all domestic air route and resume international flights in the upcoming time. We are ready for the resumption and have new on-board services to serve this."
Hanoi People's Committee on October 12 agreed with the resumption of the Hanoi-Dien Bien route from October 13. Hanoi is one of several localities still concerned about restarting flights for fears of new outbreaks. It is expected that more cities and provinces will give the green light to adding more flights as soon as possible.
"The opening of the aviation sector is an urgent need of society," said Vo Huy Cuong, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).
"Prolonged closures would just cause more difficulties for localities, airports, and the national economy. Localities need to have reopening policies to facilitate business activities."
Nguyen Manh Quan, deputy general director of Bamboo Airways, added that experience from other countries showed that the highest requirements for passengers are to be fully vaccinated and to have tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 within 72 hours before departure.
Together with the domestic reopening, future prospects of a resumption of international flight could be bright as the IATA Travel Pass and vaccine passport are accelerated by Vietnam and other countries. This could enable Vietnam Airlines, Bamboo Airways, and Vietjet to accelerate their wish to resume international flights.
The CAAV also proposed removing the quarantine requirements for air passengers. Instead, the authority suggested to let passengers from green zones – that is, places without any COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days – fly if they provide a negative test result.
Globally, many countries have already reopened their borders to travellers, while many are planning to do the same.
The United States has decided to reopen the country to fully-vaccinated air travellers from around the world from early November, while Thailand also plans to fully reopen to vaccinated tourists from low-risk countries from November 1.
As of October 15, Vietnam had inoculated over 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with over 17 million people receiving two shots.
By Bich Thuy
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