Vietnam’s resumption of international flights must also be rolled out in line with the pandemic's developments.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has outlined a detailed four-phased plan to resume international air services, which would allow the country to welcome back foreign tourists after months of imposing tight border controls.
Accordingly, the first phase, slated for the last quarter of 2021, would see international commercial flights open to Vietnamese citizens with the approval of competent agencies.
Passengers must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with the last dose administered at least 14 days prior to departure and undergone a negative RT-PCR or rapid antigen test within 72 hours before boarding. Otherwise, a certificate of recovery from Covid-19 issued no more than six months prior to the flight is required.
In this phase, Vietnamese air carriers will cooperate with travel agencies to devise inbound flight packages, where passengers will pay for flight tickets, Covid-19 tests, quarantine hotels, and meals. Each airline will be allowed to carry out one flight per day and the number could be elevated to two in the subsequent months.
Vietnam’s airlines are ready to serve customers. Photo: Le Thanh
In the second phase, which will start from January 2022, the CAAV has proposed to resume regular commercial flights that only carry passengers who are fully vaccinated or recovered from the disease and the scope of destinations will be expanded.
Commercial flights will be restored to connect with China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan (China), Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, France, Germany, Russia, Australia, and other markets not included in the CAAV’s list of restricted entry with four return flights per week.
Passengers could be allowed for boarding if they have proof of Covid-19 immunity and pay for their seven-day stays at quarantine centers in Vietnam.
In the third phase, which commences in April 2022, international commercial flights will resume regularly and passengers will no longer be subject to quarantine upon arrival, following the acceptance of vaccine passports in Vietnam.
Upon arriving in the country, entrants must present proof of Covid-19 vaccination or recovery before filling out medical declaration forms at immigration checkpoints.
Passengers will be accepted to check-in at departure destinations if they have full certificates in accordance with the requirements set out by the Vietnamese health authorities at the time of application.
In the fourth phase, international commercial flights are expected to be fully restored from July 2022, based on vaccine coverage and herd immunization threshold.
Besides, the CAAV also proposed the reopening some major tourist destinations to international flights such as Phu Quoc in Kien Giang Province, Nha Trang and Cam Ranh in Khanh Hoa Province, and Ha Long Bay in Quang Ninh Province.
Local airports are expected to begin welcoming tourists from several countries, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, France, Germany, Russia, and Australia, among others.
Vietnam currently accepts Covid-19 vaccine passports from 72 countries and territories and has been discussing the issue with 80 others, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Resumption of international flights needs to be done step by step to ensure safety. Photo: Phi Long
Vietnam Airlines said it is still operating commercial flights departing from Vietnam to European countries, Australia, Japan, and China but has not yet reopened to international flights.
"If international air routes are not reopened soon, Vietnam could lag behind neighboring countries who have already resumed international flights and even don't require visitors to be fully vaccinated. They just ask for a negative result of RT-PCR testing," Dr. Tran Quang Chau, chairman of the Vietnam Association on Aviation Science and Technology, told The Hanoi Times .
Vietnam has closed its borders since last March but the nation still authorizes certain flights bringing in foreign experts, investors, diplomats, skilled workers, and Vietnamese repatriates.
Only flights that serve State's purposes and carry Vietnamese citizens home are allowed to land at Vietnam's airports now. Besides, a one-way flight to carry passengers from Vietnam to Asian and European destinations is also conducted.
Dr. Ngo Tri Long, an economic expert, said Vietnam is banning international air services due to the pandemic, so the resumption of international flights must also be rolled out in line with the pandemic's developments. In other words, flights between countries would be reopened if they recognized each other’s pandemic control efforts and status.
“Under the plan, all localities can determine their risk of the Covid-19 pandemic and their response. If there are disparities in criteria to assess risk and impose different coronavirus prevention and control measures among localities, the reopening of international air routes could not achieve the expected results,” Long told The Hanoi Times .
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