Hanoi (VNA) - “We’re home shortly!” was the sentence Vietnam Airlines’ flight attendants repeatedly told Vietnamese citizens on a flight back to Vietnam from Equatorial Guinea a couple of days ago.

After a long journey to bring more than 200 Vietnamese citizens home, the crew members were all relieved and happy for having fulfilled an important mission.

It took a total of 37 hours to fly from Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport to Bata in Equatorial Guinea and back.

Be home, be safe

Flight attendant Pham Xuan Truong, who was also on flights repatriating Vietnamese citizens from Germany, the Netherlands, and France, volunteered for this special flight. This one, he said, is probably the most memorable and emotional he has flown in his career.

At 1.30pm on July 28 (Equatorial Guinea time), the Airbus A350 aircraft, carrying crew members, medical staff, and health equipment, landed at Bata International Airport - a small facility with poor infrastructure.

It was very hot outside, Truong said, but the more than 200 Vietnamese workers had waited patiently for the plane to arrive. When it landed, Truong saw Vietnamese citizens cheerfully waving their hands and their faces full of hope.

They had been at the terminal for some time. There were no seats, no fans, and no drinking water. They just stood around or sat on the ground, Truong said.

After the plane doors opened, more than 200 protective suits were delivered to the passengers and the refueling started for the plane. Due to the poor conditions at the airport, it took six hours for the aircraft to be fully refueled for the 13-hour journey home.

At the twilight, the passengers in protective clothes were finally allowed to get on board, to the warm welcome of the crew members.

At 7:30 pm, the plane took off. An hour later, an SOS signal was sent to doctors aboard as a passenger had breathing difficulties, a fever coupled with diarrhea. Smooth coordination between the doctors, caregivers, and flight attendants promptly tackled the issue in a professional manner.

Fast for a whole day

“We’re home shortly!” was what flight attendant Nguyen Anh Tuan said repeatedly to the Vietnamese citizens on the special flight from Equatorial Guinea.

For the 22-year-old man, this was not the first time he had volunteered to work on flights bringing Vietnamese citizens home during the COVID-19 pandemic, as he earlier had engaged in repatriation efforts from Germany and France. He said he will volunteer for other flights.

This special flight, he said, had five sets of protective gear for the crew. Hot to wear, yet all flight attendants did so.

The entire crew wore nappies to reduce the use of the toilets. During the long flight, they only drank water in a special air-purifier chamber and did not eat anything for a whole day.

When the plane landed in Vietnam, everyone on board was excited to be home safe and sound.

37-hour flight bringing Vietnamese citizens home from Equatorial Guinea hinh anh 1Vietnam Airlines crewmembers excellently complete their missions (Photo: Vietnam Plus).

Sharing his feelings after the long flight, Tuan said he felt proud because all the 219 Vietnamese citizens came back home safely.

Asked about the possibility of him catching the virus, he said he accepts the risk. “I believe in our medical staff who have steadfastly fought the disease and treated many patients,” he said.

The 14-day quarantine at the National Hospital for Tropical Disease in Dong Anh district in Hanoi will pass quickly and everything will be fine, he said with a smile./.

 In early July, after learning about the spread of the coronavirus among Vietnamese workers at the Sendje hydropower project, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs asked the Foreign Ministry and the Vietnamese Embassy in Angola and Equatorial Guinea as well as the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control to support businesses to bring the workers home.

Recognising that the pandemic was spreading seriously with a high rate of infection and getting beyond the control of companies, the ministry proposed to the Prime Minister the organisation of a flight to bring all the workers home. The flight was to protect the legitimate rights and interest of the workers and manifest the humanitarian policy of the Party and State.

Shortly afterward, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc requested an immediate flight to evacuate the Vietnamese citizens from Equatorial Guinea and asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ambassadors, and the Vietnamese representative offices in foreign countries to do their best to care for all Vietnamese citizens abroad.