Vietnam gears up to resume int’l flights hinh anh 1The aviation sector can get a good recovery only when international flights are resumed (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA) –
Vietnamese authorities are working to resume international flights in an attempt to help the aviation industry get a good recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has clobbered the sector from the outset of the year.

According to Deputy Minister of Transport Le Anh Tuan, the ministry will work with its partners from Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Taiwan (China), and the Republic of Korea on a transport plan between Vietnam and those destinations. The first flights are scheduled to take off at the beginning of August.

He also pointed out several challenges to Vietnam in restoring international commercial flights, including a lack of an official guideline from the Ministry of Health on quarantine procedures for passengers.

“Besides, re-establishing international routes also depends on foreign partners. The ministry has asked relevant agencies to discuss plans with their peers, and most of them gave positive response to Vietnam’s request,” Tuan said.

Tran Dinh Thien, a member of the Economic Advisory Group to the Prime Minister, said that 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. Therefore, Vietnam should be more proactive in studying feasible plans based on the premise of ensuring safety while creating motives for local economic development.

Meanwhile, Le Xuan Nghia, a member of the National Financial and Monetary Policy Advisory Council, suggested flights to Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and Europe should be prioritised so as to boost tourism.

“Foreign holiday-makers who tested negative for the coronavirus should be allowed to register to travel. They must undergo medical checkup for the second time right after entering Vietnam, then be quarantined for the third examination. By that way, we can welcome visitors from Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and Europe,” Nghia said.

A representative from the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) said several countries are mulling the setting up of a group of “travel bubble” nations, which means territories and countries having contained the pandemic will resumes international flights between one and others.

According to Jim Haas, director of product 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.

Vietnam gears up to resume int’l flights hinh anh 2Passengers at Noi Bai International Airport (Photo: VietnamPlus)

A report by the ministry at the end of April showed that the aviation industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was estimated that Vietnam’s aviation market would serve around 43 million passengers this year, a drop of 46 percent against 2019.

Airlines in Vietnam are looking at ways to overcome the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak after seeing declining passenger numbers.

Since late February, carriers like Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, Jetstar Pacific and Bamboo Airways have been offering discounts on domestic and international routes.

Economic experts said the airlines made the move with a view to attracting passengers, stimulating travel demand and maintaining their operation.

Lai Xuan Thanh, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV), said the ACV will need to adjust its business plan and work with airlines to seek ways to stimulate demand.

After the SARS outbreak in 2003, the aviation sector learned that overdependence on a single market had a considerable influence on airlines if that market encountered problems. Therefore, the sector has worked to restructure its markets.

Facing the COVID-19 outbreak, the ACV is also coordinating with relevant parties to carry out restructuring, Thanh added.

Airlines are working to open new domestic routes, sell tickets at lower prices to attract passengers, while ensuring their planes do not stand idle, in an attempt to reduce expenses, the CAAV said.

It has recommended carriers negotiate with aircraft renters to return some planes and with manufacturers to extend deadlines for receiving new planes.

Airlines have also submitted reports to the CAAV, the Ministry of Transport and the Government so that detailed plans can be made to help revive the market in late 2020 and the next two years after the outbreak is contained./.