Vietnam’s airlines prepare to take off with health passes

July 07, 2021 | 16:29
Vietnam's three major airlines of Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet, and Bamboo Airways are participating in a trial for an electronic travel pass health certification, in an attempt to prepare to restore international passenger transport as soon as it is safe to do so.
Vietnam’s airlines prepare to take off with health passes
Vietnam’s airlines prepare to take off with health passes

While the tourism industry is considering piloting vaccine passports to open the door to vaccinated tourists, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has also proposed speeding up the reopening of regular international flights carrying passengers to Vietnam.

Bamboo Airways recently confirmed that it is working closely with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to gradually implement the trial application of the IATA Travel Pass, a type of vaccine passport developed by IATA and currently being tested by more than 60 airlines worldwide.

The passenger's valid vaccinations and COVID-19 testing information will be used to match the information on the IATA Travel Pass application to determine if the passenger is eligible for travel.

A representative of Bamboo Airways said that the airline plans to set up an inspection area for passengers' compliance with movement regulations at airports, keeping valid certification information to provide the government with authentic information for each international flight.

The information is kept secure and private as well as ensures a fast, accurate, and time-saving process of identifying information compared to traditional document checking processes.

Previously, Vietjet also confirmed that it is testing the IATA Travel Pass for international aviation activities, right after Vietnam Airlines announced similar moves. According to a representative of Vietnam Airlines, the electronic health passport would have the same function as the vaccine passport.

Currently, Vietnam has no legal regulations related to the implementation of vaccine passports as well as related agreements at the government level, so the companies are currently testing the application only. The official enforcement of this type of passport would take place after obtaining permission from the competent authorities.

Secretariat director of the Vietnam Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) Hoang Nhan Chinh said that currently there are many health certificates for passengers travelling between countries, but one country may not recognise the documents of another, so a globally-recognised certificate is required.

In Southeast Asia, Singapore has applied the IATA Travel Pass to allow passengers to enter and leave the city-state. The likes of Panama and Estonia have also officially agreed to allow passengers to use this application.

"When we can't find another global organisation with a more reliable certificate, we can use the IATA Travel Pass. This is an effective solution to save time and other resources," said Chinh.

An IATA survey showed that 81 per cent of the interviewees had a need to travel again after vaccination. However, 84 per cent of respondents would not travel to countries that still have quarantine policies in place.

The use of IATA Travel Pass is one of the expected solutions for Vietnam to open the border quickly and safely. It not only supports the early recovery of the tourism industry but also helps airlines overcome difficulties after a long period of inactive operation.

According to the Vietnam Aviation Business Association, Vietnamese airlines have incurred short-term and due debts up to VND36 trillion ($1.6 billion) since the COVID-19 outbreak first affected the country. State-owned carrier Vietnam Airlines accounts for VND20 trillion ($867 million) in total debts.

Vietnam Airlines’ estimated losses in Q1 this year reached about VND4.8 trillion ($208.7 million) and up to VND10 trillion ($434.8 million) for the first half of 2021 in total.

By Lu Y

What the stars mean:

★ Poor ★ ★ Promising ★★★ Good ★★★★ Very good ★★★★★ Exceptional