Vietnam’s planned resumption of selected international flights on September 15 has been pushed back to an unconfirmed date as authorities continue to work on COVID-19 prevention measures.
Le Anh Tuan, deputy transport minister, informed local media of the development after the ministry proposed resuming international flights in two phases, with the first starting on September 15 with flights to and from China, Japan, and South Korea, and the second starting on September 22 with flights between Vietnam and Taiwan (China), Cambodia and Laos.
The six destinations in Asia are all important partners for Vietnam with high two-way transport demands, while the COVID-19 situation is considered to be largely under control.
The health ministry is still in the process of completing testing protocols and quarantine guidelines – including costs for paid quarantine cases – for eligible entries into Vietnam and further discussions are needed before a plan is submitted to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control for review on September 17.
The detailed plan for flights will be approved by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, chair of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh.
Vietnam officially stopped international entries on March 22 due to the pandemic and is now maintaining a strict 14-day quarantine period for all foreign entries.
At a cabinet meeting on September 11, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered the transport ministry to work with airlines to consider reopening commercial flights to certain destinations in Asia with separate flights for those entering Vietnam after stopovers in these destinations.
Ministries were asked to decide on priority groups when Vietnam reopened its air borders, along with other issues such as relief plans for international airports, management of foreign entries, testing regimes, and other COVID-19 prevention and control measures.
Meanwhile, flights repatriating Vietnamese citizens from overseas and bringing foreign investors, experts and managers into Vietnam should be increased, the Government leader ordered.
Provincial and municipal authorities were asked to co-operate with the transport ministry and finance ministry on paid quarantine.
Ha Noi, HCM City and Cần Thơ City and adjacent localities were instructed to prepare hotels used as paid quarantine facilities for a higher number of arrivals when routine commercial flights resume.
The defense ministry would continue to accommodate quarantine demands in centralized facilities, PM Phuc said.
National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines announced it would be resuming one-way flights from Vietnam to Japan starting September 18, mainly aimed at transporting Vietnamese citizens for study or work, but flights from Japan would remain closed awaiting Government decisions.
Bamboo Airways said it was already preparing to reopen commercial flights to Taiwan and South Korea in September-October this year, flights to Japan, Singapore and Australia in the fourth quarter of this year, and flights to Germany and the UK in the first quarter of 2021.
The carrier said it was also working with authorities to complete procedures and prepare for the resumption of other routine flights out of Vietnam once the pandemic was under control globally.
Budget carrier Vietjet praised the health ministry’s plan to enhance Vietnam’s COVID-19 testing strategy, including quick testing at airports, to reduce the number of people needing to be quarantined, which in turn would encourage more people to come to Vietnam.
This story was first published on Vietnam News