Safety first when restoring international flights hinh anh 1Airlines have made meticulous preparation for resumption of international flights following a long halt due to the coronavirus outbreak (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA) –
International flights are only resumed when airlines gain passengers’ trust on travel safety amidst health concerns over COVID-19 outbreak, according to insiders.

Tran Dinh Thien, a member of the Economic Advisory Group to the Prime Minister, said “Safety must be a top priority. Countries must carry out in-depth analysis of travel demands and work to ensure travel safety for passengers”.

As the coronavirus outbreak has not been brought under control in many regions, a number of countries will stay prudent with the resumption of international services. Meanwhile, many others welcome back international flights based on several agreements and arrangements, he said.

Vietnam has done a good job in pandemic control and prevention, with good testing ability and sufficient quarantine capacity, Thien added.

A representative from the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), when countries consider how to restart international travel amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the concept of “travel bubble”, which is an intra-zone movement or moving corridor, has become more attractive.

The travel bubble includes two or more countries successfully restraining COVID-19 to create a moving bloc or corridor. People living in the bloc can travel freely by road, sea and air, avoiding mandatory quarantine.

Regarding concerns that the resumption of international flights may import coronavirus to Vietnam, Luong Hoai Nam, an aviation expert, believed that it depends on the way Vietnam opens the door and on countries that Vietnam chooses to open with. Opening the door does not mean importing virus if coordination to prevent the pandemic is good enough. Thailand and Singapore have restored flights between each other without much concern.

“Safe tourism must be approached via bilateral or multilateral agreements. It is important that such agreements are made in detail and there is effective coordination among pandemic prevention and control agencies in Vietnam and its partners”, he stressed.

According to Jim Haas, director of marketing for Boeing commercial airplanes, international routes will be restored gradually, depending on each country’s decision to remove arrival quarantine measures.

“A survey revealed that passengers’ low confidence in air travel also challenges airlines to resume their international flights,” he said, adding Boeing is working with its partners to pen measures to ensure safety for travelers during the pandemic, including aircraft sterilisation, application of modern air filtration systems to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection, among others.

Such multi-layered approaches will protect passengers during their journey, and all parties, including policy-makers, aviation associations, and airlines, should work together to ensure safety for air travelers, he added.

On October 18, national flag carrier resumed its routine commercial flight to Japan. All 56 passengers boarding the flight had to present a mandatory proof of a negative coronavirus test 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.

Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, and Bamboo Airways also announced their resumption of routine flights to the Republic of Korea and China’s Taiwan this month.

According to the Ministry of Transport’s guidelines, airlines will only sell tickets to passengers with a visa to enter Vietnam and specific accommodations in the country when commercial international flights to Vietnam are resumed.

When selling tickets, carriers must check COVID-19 testing results granted by authorised agencies in host countries. The testing results must be issued within three days of flying.

They have to send lists of passengers to the aviation authority 12 hours before the flight and confirmed lists of passengers 30 minutes before the flights’ departure.

Passengers who transit from third countries to Vietnam will sit in separate cabins and not share same cabins with those who departed from Guangzhou (China), Taiwan (China), Seoul (the Republic of Korea), and Tokyo (Japan), Phnom Penh (Cambodia) and Vientiane (Laos).

Passengers arriving in Vietnam’s airports will be grouped and taken to quarantine areas in line with quarantine plans of the People’s Committee of provinces/cities where they arrive.

The Health Department under the transport ministry will work with the Civil Aviation Authority and the Ministry of Health’s agencies to ensure disease prevention and control for international flights./.