Resumption of international flights a timely, positive move: industry insiders
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Passengers get off a Vietnam Airlines plane arriving from Cambodia at Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC on January 1, 2021, the first regular commercial flight to Vietnam in two years. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Airlines
Aviation officials and travel firm representatives say the partial resumption of commercial international flights after a hiatus of nearly two years has happened just in time.
On January 1, a VN582 flight from Cambodia’s Phnom Penh with 121 passengers on board landed at the Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC, marking the first regular commercial flight of Vietnam's aviation after nearly two years.
The national flag carrier said it will operate a flight from Hanoi to Tokyo Wednesday, with round-trip tickets costing over $1,200 per person.
Vietnam Airlines has begun selling tickets to Seoul, Vientiane, Singapore, Taipei and San Francisco.
A representative of budget carrier Vietjet Air said it would resume its Hanoi-Tokyo route Thursday with two-way tickets costing over VND18 million ($790).
Vietjet Air will also fly once a week between Hanoi and Taipei every Saturday, HCMC-Taipei every Wednesday and HCMC and Singapore every Sunday.
Another budget carrier, Bamboo Airways, plans to operate its first regular flight on the Hanoi-Taipei route Wednesday, with two-way tickets costing around VND17 million.
Bui Doan Ne, general secretary of the Vietnam Aviation Business Association (VABA), said that the resumption of regular commercial flights on the first day of the New Year was a positive sign for the aviation industry.
"The reopening of regular flights was really necessary at this time. If the country is slow in resuming international flights, it would suffer huge economic damage and the recovery of the aviation market would be slower than that of foreign giants."
To ensure the dual goal of both economic development and epidemic prevention, it is perfectly reasonable to choose markets from countries and territories with good disease control and high vaccination rates as now, Ne said.
Vietnam Airlines CEO Le Hong Ha has also said that the resumption would provide more business restoration opportunities to the aviation and tourism industries, which have been heavily affected by the pandemic.
Ha noted that international organizations including the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have forecast that the domestic aviation market will recover around 2023 and the international segment market would bounce back in 2024.
Nguyen Nguyet Van Khanh, deputy marketing head of major travel firm Vietravel, said the outlook for the year has been brightened by the resumption of regular flights.
His company plans to start outbound tours this month to Thailand, Dubai, Europe, and the U.S. where Vietnamese are exempt from quarantine requirements, she said.
Under the current regulations, fully vaccinated people and those who have recovered from Covid-19 arriving in Vietnam only need to self-isolate for three days, instead of the earlier requirement of spending a week at centralized quarantine facilities.
All arrivals, except children below two, must have tested negative for the novel coronavirus using the PCR method within 72 hours before departure.
Due to the emergence of new variant Omicron, all passengers are now required to undergo rapid Covid testing upon landing at the Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat Airports.
Vietnam had closed its borders and grounded all regular international flights in March 2020, only allowing in its nationals and foreign experts, investors and highly skilled workers coming by special flights.