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Pretty penny: Vietnam’s COVID-19 patient piques public interest in cost of chartering private jet

Thursday, December 03, 2020, 10:24 GMT+7
Pretty penny: Vietnam’s COVID-19 patient piques public interest in cost of chartering private jet
A private jet chartered to transport 24-year-old N.T.T. from London to Ho Chi Minh City is seen at Tan Son Nhat International Airport on March 9, 2020. Photo: Tran Huynh / Tuoi Tre

The private jet which transported Vietnam’s 32nd novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient from London to Ho Chi Minh City earlier this week has been the talk of the town in Vietnam, for it reportedly set her family back some US$360,000.

Flight WGT2B, which was operated using the ultra-long-range Dassault Falcon 8x jet, carrying patient No. 32, arrived at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday morning.

The patient, a 24-year-old Vietnamese woman, is a daughter of Johnathan Hanh Nguyen -- a high-end fashion retail and air transport tycoon in Vietnam.

She lives in London and attended the Milan Fashion Week in Italy from February 18 to 24, where she interacted with Vietnam’s ‘patient No. 17,’ who tested positive for COVID-19 in Hanoi on Friday last week.

Fearing that she could have contracted the virus from patient No. 17, the woman chartered a private jet back to Vietnam.

Her test results came out positive for the new coronavirus on Monday evening.

She is currently quarantined and treated at a makeshift hospital in Cu Chi District, Ho Chi Minh City.

Rumor had it that her wealthy family paid a fortune for the service.

Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reached out to the media representative of Johnathan Hanh Nguyen’s family for more information on the issue.

“Concerned about his daughter's health, the couple [Johnathan Hanh Nguyen and his wife] chartered a private jet at a high cost, with the purpose of preventing others from being infected, which can happen on commercial flights," the representative said.

According to the representative, it did not take much time for the family to arrange the charter flight thanks to their connections in the industry.

Regarding the exact cost for the flight WGT2B, the representative refused to give an official number.

“We are currently focused on taking care of T. [Johnathan Hanh Nguyen’s daughter],” the representative said.

According to research by Tuoi Tre, it costs about $360,000 to rent such an ultra-long-range Dassault Falcon 8x jet for a one-way trip from the UK to destinations in Southeast Asia.

Dassault Falcon 8x has a flight range of 11,500 kilometers and is capable of flying non-stop from New York, the U.S. to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia ,10,500 kilometers apart.

A pilot of a local airline told Tuoi Tre that the actual cost of chartering the airplane can exceed $360,000 due to many other expenses such as hiring pilots, parking, servicing, and insurance.

Meanwhile, according to a representative of Vietstar Airlines, a Vietnamese airline providing VIP charter services, it costs VND230 million ($9,898) per hour to fly on its most expensive jets.

The novel coronavirus, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, has infected over 126,000 people and killed nearly 4,600 globally, according to Ministry of Health statistics.

Vietnam has so far confirmed 39 infections, 16 of whom have recovered and been discharged from the hospital by February 26. The remaining 19 are being treated.

Patient No. 17, a resident in Hanoi, was confirmed on Friday last week after Vietnam had reported no new infection since February 13.

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