Vietnam is gearing up to reopen international flights to Japan and South Korea from September 15th. The country is anticipating allowing eight weekly flights from Vietnam split evenly between South Korea and Japan. However, for passengers coming back to Vietnam, there will still be a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
Reopening commercial air routes between South Korea and Japan
The Vietnam News Agency reports that the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has outlined a plan to resume international flights to South Korea and Japan starting from September 15th. Director of the CAAV, Dinh Viet, told the Vietnam News Agency that the country had finished its discussions with the two countries.
The current plan will see Vietnam offering four weekly roundtrip flights to Japan and another four roundtrips to Korea. Passengers coming in from Korea and Japan, however, will still need to quarantine for 14 days on arrival in Vietnam to control viral spread.
Vietnam has strong business and tourism links in East Asia. Back in 2019, Seoul became Vietnam Airlines’ first international destination using a Boeing 787-10. Bamboo Airways also expanded into Seoul last year.
How will the routes be distributed?
It is unclear how the routes will be distributed. In Vietnam, plenty of airlines, including Bamboo Airways, VietJet, and flag carrier Vietnam Airlines would be itching to start up flights. Not to mention, Japanese carriers and South Korean airlines would also likely want a piece of the action.
These routes could be divided like the US and China have given each country reciprocal flight benefits. That is if Vietnam allows its airlines, combined, four weekly flights, to provide Korean and Japanese airlines four weekly flights, respectively. Or else grant two to Vietnamese airlines between Korea and Vietnam and two to Korean carriers between the two countries and take a similar approach with Japanese airlines.
Regardless, some airlines are going to walk away disappointed. Flag carrier Vietnam Airlines will definitely be operating commercially on some of these routes. The most likely cities include connecting either Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi to Seoul in South Korea and Tokyo in Japan.
Vietnam continues to keep its borders closed
Back in March, the Vietnamese government decided to suspend all inbound international flights. Since then, Vietnam has been quite isolated as it focused on controlling the health situation in the country. To get stranded citizens back, the government has marshaled its airlines. Vietnam Airlines has flown repatriations from Houston, San Francisco, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, Taiwan, and more. Bamboo Airways, meanwhile, operated repatriations out to Germany. People arriving in Vietnam on these repatriation flights must undergo quarantines and health checks on arrival.
Vietnam is largely renowned for its handling of the crisis. After a few months shut down, the country reopened domestically, and airlines grew tremendously, capitalizing on pent-up travel to connect domestic destinations. However, some recent spikes in Da Nang led to some cause for concern, leading Vietnam to continue to keep its borders shut for international arrivals.
Other countries, such as Australia, have also been isolated commercially from the rest of the world with limitations on the number of passengers flying into the country– who also have to undergo quarantines– leading airlines to say goodbye to long-haul international commercial flights to and from Australia for the foreseeable future. Qantas’ CEO stated it could be the middle of next year when Australia opens up for international flights.
When Vietnam fully reopens for international flights, however, it is not clear, and it could be a few months before Vietnamese airlines operate a robust international schedule– if not longer. For now, however, the country is making a move to reconnect itself to the world with links to South Korea and Japan.