National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines on Wednesday began selling tickets for the first commercial international flight returning to Vietnam from South Korea, after a six-month suspension due to COVID-19.
The flight is slated to depart Seoul for Hanoi on Friday, using an Airbus A350 with a capacity of over 300 passengers.
Tickets are not available for purchase via Vietnam Airlines’ website due to the special requirements on COVID-19 prevention and control.
Instead, customers must buy tickets through the national flag carrier’s agents in either Vietnam or South Korea. No other Vietnamese carrier has revealed plans to sell tickets for flights returning from international destinations.
Vietnam began barring entry to foreign nationals on March 22 and suspended international commercial flights from March 25 in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Since then, charter flights to the country have only been arranged to bring in experts, skilled workers, and diplomats, and to repatriate Vietnamese citizens stranded in other nations and territories due to the pandemic.
The government allowed the reopening of air services to mainland China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan from September 15 and to Laos and Cambodia from September 22.
In addition, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has given permission for the reopening of commercial flights to Thailand on a future date.
According to a representative of Vietnam Airlines, as soon as the government and competent authorities granted approval for the inbound commercial flight from South Korea on the night of September 22, the airline and relevant units worked to complete all the necessary procedures in order to begin selling tickets for the flight.
The representative added that the flight will comply with the stringent regulations on COVID-19 prevention and control.
To be eligible to board the flight, passengers must present a certificate showing that they tested negative for the coronavirus within three days of departure, have a confirmed quarantine facility in Vietnam, install contact-tracing apps, and take other safety measures.
The flight, however, will not accept transit passengers from a third country or territory. Upon landing, the crew members will undergo health checks and be quarantined in line with the regulations. The aircraft will be disinfected in accordance with international health standards.
On September 19, Vietnam’s first post-pandemic commercial international flight departed from Hanoi for Tokyo, carrying nearly 60 passengers to the Japanese capital. Most of the passengers were international students, Vietnamese workers, and Japanese citizens.
In a similar move, low-cost airline Vietjet Air has announced that it will reopen commercial flights from Vietnam to Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan from September 29.
This article was originally published in Tuoitre