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Vietnam to resume some Asian flights as curbs on business travel ease

FILE PHOTO: A health worker sprays disinfectant inside a Vietnam Airlines airplane to protect from the recent coronavirus outbreak, at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, Vietnam February 21, 2020. REUTERS/Kham/File Photo

HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam plans to restart international commercial flights to and from six Asian cities from mid-September, state media reported on Thursday, ending months of coronavirus-related suspension after easing some restrictions on foreign business travellers.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) is proposing resuming flights to Guangzhou, Seoul, Vientiane, Phnom Penh, Taipei and Tokyo, which would mean about 5,000 travellers arriving each week, the transport ministry-run Giao Thong newspaper reported, citing CAAV deputy head, Vo Huy Cuong.

Those arriving must still undergo two weeks of quarantine, according to health ministry requirements, unless the duration of their visit is under 14 days. Vietnam has not yet reopened to tourists.

Vietnam is seeking to revive its economic activities, especially tourism and transport, which have been badly hit by the travel restrictions.

It stopped flights from certain countries in late January before closing its borders in March to all but returning citizens and foreigners with special permission, as the coronavirus spread quickly around the world.

The travel curbs together with strict quarantine, testing and contact tracing has helped Vietnam keep its infections total to just 1,046 and 34 deaths and saw it record a run of 100 days without domestic transmission.

The move to resume flights contrasts with several of its regional neighbours, which are suffering big losses from tight restrictions on foreign tourists and business travellers, including Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand.

Flag carrier Vietnam Airlines HVN.HM, its unit Pacific Airlines and budget carrier Vietjet Air VJC.HM will conduct the flights and the number of inbound visitors will be limited, the reports said.

In July, Vietnam Airlines said it would lose 50 trillion dong ($2.16 billion) in revenue this year and might liquidity issues.

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Martin Petty

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