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Vietnam mulls stepwise plan to relaunch regular international flights, welcome back foreign tourists

Vietnam mulls stepwise plan to relaunch regular international flights, welcome back foreign tourists

Friday, October 22, 2021, 18:00 GMT+7
Vietnam mulls stepwise plan to relaunch regular international flights, welcome back foreign tourists
An aircraft of national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines takes off from an airdrome in Vietnam. Photo: Tuan Phung / Tuoi Tre

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has proposed a four-step plan for the resumption of inbound international flights, which would allow the country to welcome back foreign tourists after months of imposing tight border controls.

In a proposal submitted to the Ministry of Transport on Thursday, the CAAV detailed four stages in their scheme to relaunch inbound flight routes to Vietnam. 

The first phase, slated for the last quarter of 2021, seeks to provide flight bundles with quarantine costs included for overseas Vietnamese citizens, as well as trial inbound flights for foreign visitors.

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.

Entrants to Vietnam will be allowed to undergo seven-day quarantine if all passengers on their flight are either fully vaccinated or recovered COVID-19 patients; otherwise, they must enter a 14-day quarantine period. 

These flights will be reconnected to several potential locations, including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, France, Germany, Russia, and Australia, among others.

They will bring passengers to Quang Ninh Province’s Van Don Airport, Khanh Hoa Province’s Cam Ranh Airport, Da Nang City’s Da Nang Airport, as well as other airdromes that municipal-level authorities have given the green light to.

The CAAV also mulls several tourism-exclusive flights to famous destinations such as Phu Quoc Island, Khanh Hoa’s Nha Trang City, and Quang Ninh Province.

Passengers on these flights must either have a full vaccination certificate or proof of COVID-19 recovery issued six months earlier or less.

On top of that, they can only book these flights if they sign up for tour packages from travel agencies.

With no limit to the targeted markets, the program is expected to make one inbound flight per day in its first month, which would go up to two flights daily in the following months.

All workers mobilized to serve these tourists at a destination must be vaccinated, while at least 80 percent of the population must have taken two doses before their locale can open up to foreigners.

In the second phase, which will last three months from January 2022, several regular international flights for vaccinated or recovered arrivals will be operated, each with four flights per week in either direction.

These flights would connect Vietnamese locations, including Hanoi, Quang Ninh, Da Nang, Khanh Hoa, Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho, and Phu Quoc Island, with foreign destinations, including China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, France, Germany, Russia, and Australia, as well as other countries not deemed at risk of coronavirus outbreaks by Vietnamese authorities. 

Passengers can only check in at the departure points if they have proof of COVID-19 immunity and have paid for their seven-day stays at quarantine centers in Vietnam.

In the third phase, which commences in April 2022, Vietnam may consider removing quarantine regulations for eligible entrants and picking up the ‘vaccine passport’ system, or recognition of COVID-19 immunization certifications issued by other countries.

Upon arriving in Vietnam, entrants must present proof of COVID-19 vaccination or recovery before filling out medical declaration forms in the Vietnamese government’s epidemic control application. 

Subsequently, they will still be required to self-isolate at home for three to seven days.

In the fourth phase from July 2022, based on vaccination progress and the immunity status of Vietnam at the time, the country may start restoring more regular international flights for both Vietnamese citizens and foreigners. 

Vietnam has closed its borders since March last year but the nation still authorizes certain flights bringing in foreign experts, investors, diplomats, skilled workers, and Vietnamese repatriates.

Nationwide, 877,537 cases, including 798,124 recoveries and 21,487 deaths, have been registered in 62 out of the country’s 63 cities and provinces, except Cao Bang, where measures to prevent virus penetration have been strictly applied.

Vietnam has administered 71,061,495 COVID-19 vaccine shots to its 98 million population since it rolled out inoculation on March 8, while nearly 20 million people have completed the two-dose regimen, according to the national information hub for coronavirus vaccination. 

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