For the first time in months, Vietnam Airlines has flown commercial passengers to Vietnam on an international flight. After reopening flights to Seoul, on September 25th, Vietnam Airlines operated a roundtrip from Vietnam to South Korea, bringing passengers back to Vietnam. However, those passengers were met with strict entry requirements and quarantine mandates. Previously, Vietnam Airlines only flew in repatriation flights, bringing passengers back from places around the world. As of writing, Vietnam remains closed to general international tourists.
Vietnam Airlines flies a return flight with international passengers
With Vietnam reopening to international flights, the country’s flag carrier geared up to operate its first return international flight to Seoul. Using an Airbus A350, Vietnam flew a roundtrip between Hanoi and Seoul on September 25th.
The flight, however, was not open to just about anyone. Customers looking to travel on Vietnam Airlines could not book online but instead had to buy a ticket at an airline ticket office or through an official Vietnam Airlines agent in Vietnam or South Korea.
Passengers coming from South Korea were Vietnamese citizens and Korean professionals and investors with necessary business in Vietnam. Regardless, all passengers had to undergo PCR testing within three days before departure, download a contact tracing application on their phone, and complete a health declaration form. Then, after they arrived in Vietnam, passengers had to quarantine.
After arriving in Vietnam, passengers are again tested for the virus. If the results come back positive, those passengers head to medical facilities for isolation and care. If negative, passengers then head to their registered hotels for six days where they are tested again on the final day of their stay, or if it is necessary beforehand. If that test is negative, only then are passengers finally allowed to move to their homes where they must quarantine until they reach the 14-day mark.
On the flight, all passengers wore full PPE, including masks and full-body protective suits.
The goals of the flight
The flight was only approved on September 22nd, with tickets going on sale just after the approval. One of the goals of this flight, aside from bringing people back from Korea or else letting those who need to go to Korea travel, was for Vietnam to assess the ability to receive international passengers from international flights.
The flight was, according to the airline, a success in the sense that it affirmed Vietnam’s capability to handle international arriving passengers. However, do not get excited for a full reopening of borders as Vietnam continues to have stringent restrictions on international arrivals to limit the viral spread in its borders.
Vietnam Airlines wants to grow its international flights
Aside from its flights to Seoul, Vietnam Airlines is also offering a few one-way flights to Japan. Currently, the airline is not bringing passengers back from Japan.
The airline wants to grow its international flight offerings to Taiwan, China, Laos, and Cambodia. However, that depends on whether the government allows for more international flights.