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No Chance Of Vietnam Resuming International Flights In July: Experts

Source: VNExpress

Vietnamese carriers’ plans to resume international flights next month will come to naught, given fresh Covid-19 outbreaks in Asia and other factors, experts say.

They also note that apart from the new outbreaks, bilateral talks with other countries on lifting travel bans are still not complete.  

“In this current situation, the reopening of international commercial flights from July 1 as planned by Vietnamese carriers in which passengers are not subject to the 14-day quarantine is unfeasible,” Luong Hoai Nam, member of the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), told VnExpress.

The Vietnamese government has been considering the resumption of international flights to destinations that have had no new Covid-19 cases for at least 30 days.

Since early this month, Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways have announced plans to resume their international operations on select routes to destinations in South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and mainland China, which have successfully managed to contain the pandemic within their borders. They said the plans will take effect as soon as they can get official approval. 

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While Vietnamese carriers understandably want to resume international flights as soon as possible as they have suffered big losses because of flight suspensions, they know that “it is impossible to reopen doors to foreign tourists in an uncontrollable way that could bring Covid-19 back to Vietnam and lead to community transmission of the virus,” Nam said.

Vietnam has suspended all international flights since March 25 and banned entry of foreign nationals since March 22 except for special cases. It has granted permission for some special flights to repatriate Vietnamese citizens stranded abroad. 

Echoing Nam, an aviation expert who wished to remain anonymous said the reopening of international air routes in July was very unlikely as negotiations between Vietnam and other countries on the issue have not been concluded.

The government is holding talks with China, South Korea and Japan on a step-by-step resumption of air services, based on demand on both sides in compliance with measures to prevent the further Covid-19 outbreaks, the Foreign Ministry had said in a June 18 statement.

However, some of the Asian destinations being considered for early resumption of international flights, like China’s Beijing and South Korea, have been struggling with a second wave of the Covid-19 infections. Meanwhile, the number of countries and territories with no new infections for at least 30 days is limited and not free of risk.

Inbound moratorium

A recent announcement from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) indicates another reason why international flights are unlikely to resume as the carriers have hoped. 

The announcement said that Vietnam has not granted permission for inbound flights, except for special cases, from June 16 to September 16. The special cases include entry for diplomatic and official purposes, experts, business executives and highly qualified workers and those cases specified by the National Steering Committee for the Covid-19 Prevention and Control.

This means that it is unlikely that Vietnam will open doors to international visitors before September. Besides, countries are not ready to reopen the border to welcome flights from Vietnam amid complicated developments of the pandemic.

Moreover, Nam said, reopening international routes cannot be a one-way move. 

“If negotiations with countries in Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania are conducted soon, the reopening of some international routes in the next three months is feasible. However, European and North American markets will require a longer wait because the Covid-19 situation there is still very complicated,” he added.

Nam also said that while looking forward to the restoration of regular international commercial flights, Vietnamese carriers should consider exploiting charter flights to new, safe markets as Covid-19 impacts could very well linger for the next two to three years.