Accelerated progress in COVID-19 vaccination on a worldwide scale would underpin a step-by-step reopening of international flight routes to and from Vietnam in the late third quarter or early fourth quarter of 2021, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).
The coronavirus pandemic has pulled total revenue of the global aviation sector back by US$327 billion, while the customer count has dropped 60 percent, the CAAV stated in a recent report sent to the Ministry of Transport.
Hampered by the impact of border restrictions, many air carriers have chosen to pull out of Vietnam, leaving only 30 international airlines that still operate flights to and from the country.
The majority of these inbound flights are for cargoes, as well as foreign experts, diplomats, experts, investors, skilled workers, and students, while visitors are not allowed to enter the country as prescribed by Vietnam’s COVID-19 border control mandate that has come in place since March 2020.
The absence of foreign visitors, plus outbreaks that hit the country in recent peak demand seasons, has taken a huge toll on the aviation industry.
In the first half of 2021, Vietnamese airlines handled 26.8 million passengers in aggregate, a 19.4 percent drop compared to last year.
However, the CAAV is optimistic about the recovery of the aviation industry in Vietnam this year, specifically in the latter half of the year, when the Southeast Asian nation and the world in general accelerate vaccine roll-outs.
Positive progress toward herd immunity in Vietnamese tourism’s key markets like East Asia and Europe also fortifies a hope for a relaunch of international travel to and from Vietnam later this year.
It is projected that the Vietnamese aviation sector will pick up in the middle of the third quarter this year, while visitors to airports in Vietnam will surpass 70 million.
Vietnam is also kicking off a plan to reopen to foreign tourists, with acceptance of COVID-19 vaccination certificates on the table.
Phu Quoc Island off the coast of southern Kien Giang Province has been chosen to run a pilot program, which will start welcoming travelers from Russia before taking in potential international visitors from other countries and territories such as South Korea and Taiwan.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Southeast Asian country has reported 16,136 coronavirus cases, including 14,358 local and 1,778 imported cases, according to the Ministry of Health.
A total of 6,519 patients have recovered from the respiratory disease.
Vietnam has administered 3,497,104 COVID-19 vaccine shots since it rolled out inoculation on March 8.
Over 172,000 people have completed the two-dose regimen.