Airlines crave return of international flights

October 29, 2021 | 08:00
Vietnamese airlines have outlined extensive plans to reopen international passenger transport as soon as they are allowed, after nearly two years of being on the ground due to the pandemic.
Airlines crave return of international flights
Vietnam is preparing proper protocols to ensure safe operations for airlines as the skies reopen, Photo: Duc Thanh

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) is coordinating with a number of international airlines to launch charter flights to Phu Quoc Island in November, including flights departing from destinations where Vietnam has no routes.

Vu Hong Quang, deputy head of the Air Transport Department under the CAAV said, “As long as Phu Quoc welcomes 1-5 successful international flights, the pilot model can be expanded to Khanh Hoa and Quang Ninh provinces, then towards regular international flights to other localities from 2022.”

Airlines have had positive feedback to fly again and serve international markets that are in high demand such as Russia, Singapore, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Trinh Hong Quang, deputy general director of Vietnam Airlines, said that Vietnam should develop specific policies to safely attract more international visitors to enter the country.

“It is necessary to group the market according to the level of safety and have loosened and attractive policies for visitors from safe markets, allowing airlines to actively build their own business plans for international flights based on the guidance of the CAAV,” Quang said.

To ensure the safety of passengers on these flights, Vietnam Airlines uses technology at all stages to minimise direct contact during the flight and make passengers feel at ease.

Meanwhile, while not sharing specific plans, Vietjet deputy general director Nguyen Thanh Son asserted that its international passenger flights will soon return to the sky. “We are preparing to operate new services. Vietjet has prepared all resources to re-exploit the entire flight network, not only in the country but also beyond,” Son shared.

Bamboo Airways also believes that airlines are ready and confident for reopening, as long as they can ensure the safety of passengers.

“The highest level of regulation that allows passengers to travel in the world today is to have two full shots of the vaccine, a negative PCR test within 72 hours before departure, and isolation upon arrival. If the airport is in a safe area, passengers only need one injection and a test. If they are from a hot spot, it is necessary for them to have both injections. These conditions can be relaxed and adjusted according to each stage and the overall situation,” said Nguyen Manh Quan, deputy general director of Bamboo Airways.

In September, Bamboo Airways began to sell tickets to Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea with a frequency of one flight per week. The airline will also sell tickets for the Hanoi-Taipei route every Wednesday from November 3, and Hanoi-Tokyo every Tuesday from February. The route from Hanoi to Seoul is scheduled to depart every Friday starting from November 5. Bamboo Airways is also working with partners in the European and American markets, as well as completing necessary procedures to deploy non-stop flights to the US, the UK, Czech Republic, Germany, France, and others. The airline also confirmed that the Airport Council of the UK had granted a flight slot at Heathrow Airport in London with a weekly departure of six flights per week from May.

“Through the busiest airports in the world, Bamboo Airways’ international flight network has been enhanced to connect with global hotspots. This helps us to better meet the needs of international travellers and promote Vietnam’s tourism to the European market,” the Bamboo Airways representative shared in May.

After 11 days of piloting the resumption of some domestic routes, the Ministry of Transport agreed to reopen all domestic routes from October 21.

Passengers travelling on these flights will not have to sit apart, but must be fully vaccinated with a certificate issued by competent authorities, with the second dose injected at least 14 days prior to travelling or must have recovered from COVID-19, and returned to their community six months previously with a discharge certificate; as well as have a negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test or antigen rapid test, taken within 72 hours before boarding.

Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) said that aviation businesses have jointly established a green corridor. Passengers arriving at the 22 ACV-managed airports will see a 5K compliance guide, and areas between passengers and airport staff all use technology to minimise contact.

Vietjet recommends passengers to check-in online to avoid the crowds at the airport. The airline continues offering thousands of “free” eco-tickets to customers, especially those who are coming back to Ho Chi Minh City and the south.

Vietjet also offers free COVID-19 quick tests for all passengers departing from Ho Chi Minh City and from Hanoi from October 22. Passengers will be provided healthcare services on all flights, including nutritious food, drinks, a health monitoring guide, and also protective and antibacterial hygiene products.

For international passenger transport, Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet, and Bamboo Airways previously collaborated with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to test the IATA Travel Pass on one-way flights from Vietnam to some countries. Participating in the IATA Travel Pass trial with nearly 60 other airlines around the world has opened up expectations for Vietnam’s international passenger transport to recover quickly and safely after the pandemic subsides.

By Hoang Oanh

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