Reopening international fights - a "golden" opportunity for domestic airlines

VOV.VN - Current efforts to reopen international flights after a hiatus of nearly two years due to the ravaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is viewed as a "revival" medicine for airlines and the local tourism industry, as well as economic recovery as a whole.

Starting from February 15, the nation lifted restrictions placed on passenger transport on international flights with countries and territories, as was the case before the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a recent interview given to VOV, Dinh Viet Thang, director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), said that international airports are ready to operate the entire international flight network. Amid continued difficulties, this represents an opportunity, he said, adding that there is no better time than now, with Vietnamese airlines being well prepared to seize upon the opportunities to reopen immediately.

The restoration of international flight routes to what they were before the pandemic is an urgent task directed by the Prime Minister to the Ministry of Transport and the CAAV which has outlined a roadmap, with the start of a pilot scheme for the reopening of international commercial flights from January 1. Through the implementation process, the CAAV regularly reviews, evaluates, and considers the situation, judging now to be the right time to carry out the normal reopening of international aviation after a one month of pilot period.

According to statistics, the past one month has seen the country attract approximately 118,000 passengers, with the majority going to do business or are going to do public services, especially repatriation. Therefore, in order to ensure the urgent requirements to restore and ensure the normal operation of the aviation industry after a long time of hiatus, it remains imperative to restore the aviation market.

In the process of its implementation, the CAAV regularly holds exchanges with foreign airlines, with foreign aviation authorities keen for Vietnam to restore routes as normal as was the case before the pandemic. This would therefore make it possible for airlines to put flight plans in place, as well as for passengers to enjoy greater opportunities to access more flight schedules and flights.

Previously, the CAAV had asked the Vietnam Air Traffic Management Corporation (VATM) to issue a Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) on the lifting of all restrictions on international flights from February 15, thereby returning to the normal situation like before the outbreak of COVID-19.

According to the authority, limits placed on the number of inbound and outbound international flights  will be removed. Meanwhile, regulations on entry and pandemic prevention and control for passengers entering the country will continue to be implemented in line with the guidelines set by the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Health, it said.

Except China, every country receiving the Vietnamese proposal has agreed to restore aviation links with the nation.

Currently, air routes linking the country with European countries, Australia, and the United States have been resumed. However, Japan and the RoK will still apply restrictions on passengers from the nation as part of their efforts to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.

Regarding how China's closure to international routes affects domestic airlines, Thang said, “The fact that we have not been able to reopen international flights to China is a huge disadvantage and difficulty for aviation. In 2019, before the pandemic, Vietnam attracted 7.6 million visitors from the Chinese market that ranked 2nd among our tourist markets, behind the Korean market with approximately 10 million visitors.”

Identifying China as the largest potential market in terms of the country’s international tourism industry, the CAAV is working closely with Chinese aviation authorities on the reopening of flights between the two countries as soon as China relaxes restrictions on international flights. Moreover, these are not in terms of commercial flights, but also of great political significance, Thang emphasised.

Most notably, in the near future, international flights to new markets such as the Middle East and Turkey will be opened. In order to restore the international aviation market, especially the tourism market, it is necessary to adopt simple and favourable conditions for other airlines to access our market, he added.