Int’l commercial flights yet to take off hinh anh 1Airlines have yet to resume international flights pending uniform COVID-19 quarantine procedures. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA) – Relevant agencies and especially airlines have proposed ministries and sectors issue uniform regulations so as to restart international commercial flights that have been suspended for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These flights can only be resumed when concerned agencies reach consensus on COVID-19 quarantine procedures, insiders have said.

Dang Anh Tuan, head of Vietnam Airlines’ communications and branding department, said right after the Government and the Prime Minister gave a nod to the reopening of certain international flights, the national flag carrier was the first to operate a commercial flight to Japan.

Flight VN310 marked the beginning of the resumption of regular flights to a number of selected countries in Asia since planes were grounded back in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Onboard were Vietnamese trainees, workers, and experts heading back to Tokyo to continue their studies and work after months of disruption.

It also carried a number of Japanese citizens heading home.

All 60 passengers boarding the Vietnam Airlines flight had to present a mandatory proof of a negative coronavirus tests (PCR diagnostics) issued three days before the flight, declare their travel history in the 14 days prior and download contract tracing apps as per health protocols set by the host country.

The flight crew underwent health examinations and quarantine when they returned to Vietnam.

However, Tuan said, regulations on such flights are under the authority of various ministries, for example the Ministry of Transport regulates the personnel and aircraft type for such flights, the Ministry of Health COVID-19 is in charge of quarantine and testing work, while the army is responsible for quarantine facilities and supervision at those facilities.  

There is no single set of regulations, resulting in problems arising, he said, which prompts relevant units and airlines to propose the ministries and sectors work together over the issue.

In response to the appeal, the Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Foreign Affairs  and the Ministry of Health met to list all the problems arising after the first two commercial international flights operated by Vietnam Airlines and budget carrier Vietjet Air.

A working group headed by the Acting Minister of Health, with the participation of Vietnam Airlines, was formed to deal with this issue. Currently, the group is building a set of quarantine procedures to be applied nationwide.

Tuan said he expects that the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control will announce the procedures this weekend.

Pacific Airlines, a member of Vietnam Airlines Group, also conducted four flights to bring passengers from Singapore home, and the carrier will launch more flights if permitted by the Government, according to Tuan.

On September 25, Vietnam Airlines operated a return flight between Hanoi and Seoul, the Republic of Korea (RoK). Five days later, Vietjet Air also resumed the air route between Ho Chi Minh City and Seoul. However, quarantine procedures during those flights were not carried out in the same way.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong noted that at a regular press conference of the Government on October 2, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control had issued instructions on the resumption of international flights.

The Government has recently assigned the transport ministry to coordinate with other relevant ministries and agencies to restart international flights from Vietnam to other countries.

The transport ministry has asked the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam to work with foreign aviation authorities, the official said, adding that the reopening requires consensus between countries.

The transport ministry will further coordinate with other relevant ministries and agencies to complete quarantine procedures as the frequency of 1-2 flights per week is now beyond the quarantine capacity of localities, the official promised.

“The successful operation of the first international flights will be the premise for the next flights to Japan, China and Taiwan (China),” Dong affirmed./.