|Nội Bài International Airport. — VNA/VNS Photo Vân Sơn
HÀ NỘI — As of Tuesday noon, 10 out of 20 localities have responded to the Civil Aviation Authority of Việt Nam (CAAV)’s proposed plan to resume domestic flights, as COVID-19 outbreaks eased but remain difficult to predict.
Five provinces – Điện Biên, Phú Yên, Khánh Hoà, Bình Định and Thanh Hoá – are fully behind the plan.
The south-central coastal province of Khánh Hoà, for example, concurred with the first phase of the resumption plan with 20 round trips a day.
Phú Yên also said yes to the proposal for three round trips between the province and Hà Nội a day, and four round trips to and from HCM City a day.
Nghệ An is not against the resumption, but only wants a limited amount of flights between the province and Hà Nội and HCM City with two flights each.
HCM City, well on its reopening path after the outbreak peak passed, proposed to reopen 18 routes with up to 132 flights a day. With regards to the resumption of the highly anticipated Hà Nội – HCM City route, the southern city wants a fixed number of round trips on a weekly basis, to handle the large demand between the two economic centres in the northern and southern regions.
Prior to the fourth wave of infections and prolonged lockdowns hitting the country since late April, the Hà Nội – HCM City is usually the busiest route in the country and ranked seven among the world’s busiest domestic air routes in 2020 and early 2021.
Hà Nội, however, still demurs on the reopening of regular domestic flights, despite calls to do so when the capital city has the COVID-19 situation largely under control, with only a few contained infection clusters, and most adult residents have received at least one dose of vaccine.
Hà Nội People’s Committee has asked CAAV to report to the transport authority on the details of the air transport resumption plan amid COVID-19 to seek feedback and express consensus not only from Hà Nội but also other neighbouring provinces and cities as well as the health ministry
It also wants the CAAV to clarify some criteria for passengers, for example, whether passengers from high-risk COVID-19 areas would need permission from the local authorities, as well as for the time being, not allowing flights from HCM City, Bình Dương, Đồng Nai, and Long An – all southern localities hit hard by the pandemic – to other localities.
Arrangements of vehicles used to transport passengers arriving at/from Nội Bài International Airport and the coordination mechanism between different localities’ health authorities to ensure passengers under risk groups be properly quarantined upon their arrival are also issues that Hà Nội’s administration is worried about.
Hải Phòng also has not agreed to restart domestic flights to the city yet, and so did the central highlands province of Gia Lai at least until after October 15.
Previously, on October 1, the CAAV send a request to 20 localities that have been under strict social distancing orders (HCM City, Hà Nội, Đà Nẵng, Hải Phòng, Cần Thơ, Quảng Ninh, Nghệ An, Điện Biên, Thừa Thiên Huế, Quảng Bình, Quảng Nam, Đắk Lắk, Gia Lai, Lâm Đồng, Phú Yên, Bình Định, Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu, Khánh Hòa, Kiên Giang and Cà Mau) to seek feedback on resumption of up to 385 daily round trips.
Đinh Việt Thắng, Director of CAAV, said in a transport ministry meeting that the resumption of transport is a “matter of survival, not just to the air transport sector.”
“The aviation authority proposed the transport ministry to report to the Government so a uniformed approach could be reached nationwide, otherwise, having each locality with its own implementation of rules would make it very difficult for domestic routes to restart,” he said. — VNS