Airlines have been licensed to operate regular international commercial flights between Vietnam and eight out of nine countries and territories in the first phase of the Government-approved pilot scheme.
Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese nationals residing abroad wish to return to their hometown during the coming lunar New Year holiday for family reunion.
Domestic airlines have been permitted to fly to Japan, Taiwan (China), Singapore, Cambodia, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Laos, and Thailand. The remaining destination - China (Beijing, Guangzhou) – is yet to be reopened as negotiations are underway.
Vietnam Airlines kick-started the plan by flying from Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) to Phnom Penh (Cambodia) on January 1. It is scheduled to operate the second international flight between Vietnam and Japan on January 5.
The national flag carrier has offered ticket sales to passengers on the Hanoi - Seoul route from January 6, Hanoi / Ho Chi Minh City - Singapore from January 12, Ho Chi Minh City - Bangkok (Thailand) from January 8, Hanoi - Vientiane (Laos) from January 9, Hanoi - Taipei (Taiwan - China) from January 11, and Vietnam - USA from January 9.
Meanwhile, Vietjet Air is scheduled to operate a number of routes such as Hanoi - Tokyo on January 6, Taipei - Hanoi on January 8, and Taipei - Ho Chi Minh City on January 12.
Another domestic airline, Bamboo Airways, is due to operate the Hanoi - Taipei route on January 5. The budget airline has announced it will conduct one flight per week, with the next departures on January 12, January 19 and January 26.
In an effort to quickly resume international commercial air routes, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has proposed removing rapid test requirements for passengers from countries with the Omicron strain before and after the flight, and instead passengers are only required to undergo a PCR test.
The Prime Minister had earlier approved a pilot scheme to restore international air routes to Beijing/Guangzhou (China), Tokyo (Japan), Seoul (the Republic of Korea), Taipei (Taiwan), Bangkok (Thailand), Singapore, Vientiane (Laos), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), and San Francisco/Los Angeles (US).
Passengers are required to receive full doses of COVID-19 vaccines and have a negative PCR COVID-19 test before entering Vietnam.
However, the emergence of the Omicron globally, especially in all nine countries and territories in the approved pilot scheme, has raised concerns about the spread of the new strain in Vietnam.
The Government Office later issued a telegram, requesting that passengers coming from destinations with the Omicron strain must undergo rapid tests before boarding and after getting off the plane.
Airlines said many of the foreign airports have yet to offer such rapid tests, while the airlines have to pay the testing cost when passengers get off the plane in Vietnam.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has asked domestic airlines to include the testing cost in the ticket price for passengers on entry.