Vietnam Halts International Flight Arrivals

The Vietnamese government has taken the decision to suspend all inbound international flights in order to contain the spread of coronavirus within its borders. At the time of writing, Vietnam has recorded 94 cases and no deaths according to Worldometer. The move is in line with other countries around the world, which have been sealing off their borders from non-citizens and permanent residents.

Vietnam airlines worker in mask disinfecting plane
IATA is estimating losses up to US$113billion for the global air industry though this figure will likely grow. Photo: Getty Images

“(Vietnam) will suspend all the flights carrying foreign passengers to minimize the number of people coming to the country,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in the statement via Reuters.

The latest move in a series of travel restrictions

This most recent move is by far the most restrictive for the Southeast Asian nation. Prior to this, Vietnam had temporarily suspended visa-free travel for citizens of Japan, Belarus, and Russia according to Malaysian news site The Star. Vietnam has a free trade agreement with the countries of Russia and Belarus. Japan is Vietnam’s second-largest source of foreign investment according to The Star.

The Foreign Ministry had already suspended visa waivers for nine European countries and South Korea. Visitors from the United States, Europe and Southeast Asian countries are being transported to repurposed military camps to spend 14 days in quarantine.

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Vietnam Airlines welcomed its third Boeing 787-10 last October. Photo: Vietnam Airlines.

Which airlines will this affect the most?

This will mostly affect Vietnam’s carriers which include flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, as well as low-cost carrier VietJet. In a case of extremely unfortunate timing, the relatively new start-up Bamboo Airways will also take a huge hit. The airline is just over one year old, having begun operations in January of 2019.

In fact, Bamboo Airways has had to delay its entry into Europe. It had initially been planning to launch services to Prague (Czech Republic) later this month. However, the launch of the route was postponed to late April. Given the severity of the current situation, this may be further postponed.

In mid-February, Vietnam Airlines said it was losing as much as 250 billion dong (US$10.8 million) in revenue every week as a result of COVID-19 (coronavirus) flight suspensions. The airline had also reported a 20-30% drop in passengers on domestic routes for the first half of February. This figure has also likely ballooned given the worsening situation.

Vinpearl Air scrapped
Bamboo Airways only began operations in January 2019. Photo: Getty Images

Conclusion

Sadly Vietnam’s aviation industry is not the only one suffering. This pandemic has seen travel restrictions all over the world with countries like the United States and Australia imposing restrictions in the past week.

As this latest move will likely result in lay-offs while there has yet to be news of government assistance from Vietnam for its aviation industry. As a result, it’s even more difficult to know which of the country’s airlines will make it through this crisis intact.

Are you affected by this most recent travel restriction? Let us know in the comments.

Simple Flying reached out to Vietnam Airlines, VietJet, and Bamboo Airways with requests for reactions or statements on the issue. At the time of publishing, no parties have responded to our requests. We will update this article if any responses are received.

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