Vietnam Airlines and “special flight” bringing Vietnamese home hinh anh 1Vietnamese citizens say thanks to the Vietnamese Government and Vietnam Airlines for repatriating them from Equatorial Guinea (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) -
A special flight carrying 219 Vietnamese citizens previously living in Equatorial Guinea landed safely at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport a couple of days ago.

It was the 41st flight conducted by the national flag carrier to bring Vietnamese people home from different parts of the world. It was the first time, however, that the airline had to do so while also dealing with a large number of infections, as many passengers are thought to be carrying COVID-19.

Dang Anh Tuan, head of the airline’s Communications and Branding Department, said right from the early days of the first outbreak, Vietnam Airlines has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Government and people everywhere and every time.

Despite facing a high risk of infection, its staff have been willing to put themselves on the frontlines of the national fight against the pandemic, Tuan said, adding that more than 130 employees, including pilots, flight attendants, technicians, and ground staff, voluntarily agreed to be part of the flight and this is truly touching.

“Flights followed the strictest standards and had experienced flight crews and highly-qualified engineers, technicians, and ground staff,” he said. “Standby spare parts were also taken, so any technology-related problems could be addressed.”

Tuan said Vietnam Airlines had prepared for a month for the special flight, with dozens of meetings held to discuss every detail, under the direction of the Prime Minister, the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, and the Ministry of Transport.

With its experience in repatriating Vietnamese citizens from unstable places such as Libya in 2011 and 2014 or Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Vietnam Airlines worked with relevant ministries and sectors such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Health on preparations and on having suspected cases of infection on board.

All necessary preparations relating to technical issues and protective gear were made, to deal with any and all situations that may occur on the flight.

Preparation of fuel for the aircraft at Equatorial Guinea’s Bata International Airport was also problematic, as the airport had no fuel at all.

But the carrier worked with the Equatorial Guinean side to resolve the problem, with the latter making arrangements for fuel to be transported to the Bata International Airport.

To deal with every arising circumstance, Vietnam Airlines decided to choose the most experienced crew members, Tuan explained, adding that the captain previously flew to Libya to rescue Vietnamese workers.

After landing in Hanoi, Captain Pham Dinh Hung told the Vietnam News Agency: “The flight was safe. No passengers had any problems during the journey from Bata to Noi Bai.”

Phung Hoang Quan, a flight attendant onboard the special flight, said it was his third trip repatriating Vietnamese. Unlike previous flights, however, where most of the passengers were students, this flight had passengers who had been identified as being possibly infected with COVID-19.

“I’m not married as yet, so before these flights this I always speak with my parents,” he said. “Fortunately, they understand the nature of my career and support me.”

He added that if Vietnam Airlines conducts more such special flights, he will again put his hand up./.