Vietnam sees huge demand as international flights resume
Vietnam has reopened to fully vaccinated travelers from a range of countries and has already welcomed over 1,700 passenger arrivals in the first three days. The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam is reporting that 11 carriers operated 17 scheduled flights into Vietnam over the period.
Vietnamese carriers resume limited international flights
Local carriers Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, Bamboo Airways, and Pacific Airlines are operating limited international flights. Foreign airlines who can now return to Vietnam include Thai VietJet, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Starlux Airlines, China Airlines, Emirates, and Asiana Airlines.
Between them, those airlines brought 1,753 passengers into Vietnam in the first three days of 2022. Ten flights touched down at Hanoi’s Noi Bai Airport, three flights landed at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang and Can Tho Airports each handled a single flight.
On Saturday evening, the first flight landed – a Vietnam Airlines Airbus A321 flight from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City with 121 passengers onboard.
Vietnamese authorities have allowed flights to resume to nine destinations in the first phases of a staged border reopening. This follows Vietnam closing its borders to almost all foreign nationals in March 2020.
Those initial destinations include Bangkok, San Francisco, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Phnom Penh, and Vientiane. Flights to either Beijing or Guangzhou in China are pending. Vietnamese authorities are trying to nut out the details with their Chinese counterparts. However, indicators are resuming flights to and from Vietnam is not a top-tier priority for the Chinese Government at the moment.
Staged border reopening a carefully managed process
The staged reopening of Vietnam is a carefully managed process. Vietnamese authorities are being fairly tight-fisted regarding slots and frequencies. Flag carrier Vietnam Airlines is operating a handful of services to regional cities such as Singapore, Seoul, Tokyo, Bangkok, Taipei, and Vientiane over the next couple of weeks.
VietJet is initially resuming some services to Tokyo and Taipei while Bamboo Airways is heading back to Taipei. Under the new arrivals regime in Vietnam, fully vaccinated inbound travelers will need to test before and after arrival and self-isolate for three days.
On the all-important sector between Vietnam and Singapore, Vietnam Airlines is initially allowed to fly the route twice a week. VietJet and Pacific Airlines can each operate one flight a week. A scan of the Singapore Airlines booking engine indicates that the airline has scheduled no flights into Vietnam over January.
Strong competition for limited seats into Vietnam
Vietnamese authorities proposed running at least five flights a week between Vietnam and Taipei. Taiwanese startup carrier Starlux had big plans for Vietnam. However, it seems that the airline is also leaving the Taiwan-Vietnam sector to Vietnamese airlines in the first stage of Vietnam’s border reopening.
Early media reports suggest competition for seats on what flights are available is strong. When Vietnam first closed its borders, the flights dried up. This left hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese stranded overseas. They are now competing for what seats are available with foreign nations trying to get into the country.
The intense competition is causing some travelers to fly into Phnom Penh and cross into Vietnam via the land border, which is currently open.
By Andrew Curran – Simpleflying.com – January 6, 2022