International flights reopen, good news for overseas Vietnamese
In the early days of 2022, local airlines have reopened regular international routes, which is good news for 140,000 overseas Vietnamese who want to return home to celebrate the Lunar New Year (Tet).
Mr. Dinh Viet Dung, member of the Executive Committee of the Vietnam Aviation Association, said that along with the early recovery of the domestic aviation market, the rapid reopening and expansion of international routes will help restore the aviation industry and bring overseas Vietnamese back home for Tet.
On the first day of 2022, Vietnam Airlines reopened a regular international flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh (Cambodia). The airline will reopen the air route from Hanoi to Tokyo on January 5 (Narita Airport, Japan).
From January 1, Vietjet also reopened international routes to Japan, Taiwan (China), and Singapore, with 1 round-trip flight every Thursday from Hanoi to Tokyo, 1 one-way flight every Saturday from Hanoi to Taipei, and one round-trip flight from Ho Chi Minh City - Taipei on every Wednesday.
From January 9, 2022, Vietjet will also re-operate the Ho Chi Minh City - Singapore route with 1 round-trip flight per week on Sundays. Flight routes connecting Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City with Seoul (Incheon, South Korea), and Bangkok (Thailand) will also operate as soon as they are approved by the authorities of both countries.
Meanwhile, Bamboo Airways has prepared plans and resources to exploit international routes to key markets of Vietnam. In phase 1, this carrier plans to operate direct flights to Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. In phase 2, it will reopen direct flights to Germany, Australia and then to Japan, the UK and especially the US (HCMC - San Francisco/Los Angeles) in the later period.
Brighter scene for 2022
According to General Secretary of the Vietnam Aviation Business Association (VABA) Bui Doan Ne, the positive signals of the aviation industry in 2022 are shown by the restoration of international routes from the first days of the new year.
The reopening of international routes is very necessary after a long time of closure. If it stays closed for another time, many domestic aviation businesses may disappear from the market. If the opening is too slow, the competitiveness of local carriers will be weak compared to foreign rivals and the recovery of the market will be slower.
Ne added that to ensure the dual goal of both economic development and epidemic prevention, choosing markets from countries with good disease control and high vaccination rates as proposed by the Ministry of Transport is reasonable.
According to forecasts of international organizations, including the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the domestic aviation market will recover in 2023 and the international aviation market in 2024. However, the recovery of markets will depend on the vaccination process and the country's opening plan.
The leaders of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam also believe in the gradual recovery of the market, especially as Covid-19 is gradually being controlled in Vietnam as well as in many countries around the world.
In order to reopen international air routes, the Vietnam Aviation Business Association recommends not restricting the range of passengers and travel purposes of international visitors to Vietnam, and only require passengers to have valid visas and passports and fully meet requirements on epidemic prevention and control according to the regulations of the Vietnam.
The association also proposed relaxing quarantine regulations for passengers on entry in line with the current policy of "safe adaptation, flexibility and effective control of the COVID-19 epidemic", and then consider lifting the quarantine regulations; and remove regulations on quarantine for crew members of Vietnamese airlines who have just completed overseas flights.
However, a representative of the Ministry of Transport said that in the first stage of reopening international routes (10 to 15 days), the Ministry will make appropriate adjustments.
Due to the impact of Covid-19 since 2020, air passenger transport has dropped sharply. By the end of September 2021, there were only 13.4 million passengers, down 42.1% compared to 2020 and down 77% over the same period in 2019.
Since the 4th outbreak in Vietnam, Vietnam’s airlines have fallen into a dangerous situation, as their revenue has decreased by 80-90% and their cash flow has been exhausted. In that situation, the aviation industry has turned to freight transport. This was a bright spot in air traffic in 2021.
Inconsistent quarantine policies and Covid patients’ statistics are making it difficult for the aviation and tourism sectors to reopen.