Vietnam has postponed the re-opening of commercial international flights to an unconfirmed date as authorities finalise COVID-19 health protocols.

Vietnam’s Deputy Transport Minister Le Anh Tuan reportedly informed local media of the development on September 14, 2020. Reports said the Health Ministry was still completing testing protocols and quarantine guidelines for eligible entries into Vietnam. Further discussions were needed, but a revised plan would be submitted to the country’s National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control for review on September 17, 2020.

The Vietnamese government, at a meeting on September 8, initially proposed to re-open international flights in two phases, starting on September 15 with flights to and from Guangzhou, Tokyo Narita, and Seoul Incheon, and the second starting on September 22 with flights to Taipei Taoyuan, Phnom Penh, and Vientiane.

Vietnam officially stopped international entries on March 22, 2020 due to the pandemic and is now maintaining a strict 14-day quarantine period for all arrivals.

National flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines (VN, Hanoi), through social media on September 16, confirmed to ch-aviation it would resume one-way flights from Vietnam to Japan for the remainder of September, starting on September 25, while it prepares for the resumption of schedules to South Korea, China, Taiwan, Laos, and Cambodia pending government approval. The one-way flights were aimed at transporting Vietnamese citizens for study or work, but flights from Japan would remain closed awaiting government decisions. Since June 2020, the airline operated several one-way repatriation flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Seoul and Frankfurt Int'l. It also reconfigured passenger planes to carry cargo to help generate revenue during the lockdown.

According to its social media posts, Bamboo Airways (QH, Hanoi), has been conducting repatriation flights from South Korea and Malaysia. It was planning reopening weekly commercial flights to Taiwan on September 29 and weekly services to Seoul from October 7 using B787-9s. It also published plans to fly to to Japan, Singapore and Australia in 4Q20 and flights to Germany and the UK in 1Q21.

VietJetAir (VJ, Hanoi) on social media announced it was operating four flights to Guangzhou, Taiwan, Seoul and Tokyo for the remainder of September, but restricted to repatriating business travellers, technical workers and Vietnamese citizens.

Meanwhile, two A320-200s of Pacific Airlines (BL, Ho Chi Minh City) departed from Ho Chi Minh for Singapore Changi on September 14 to repatriate Vietnamese citizens from Singapore. In a statement, the airline said it would continue to organise repatriation flights in coordination with Vietnamese authorities and Vietnam Airlines. “This is also the first step for Pacific Airlines to prepare and be ready to conduct regular international flights,” it said.

Editorial Comment: Updated with Vietnam postponing the re-opening of select international flights. - 16.09.2020 - 11:50 UTC