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No New Airlines in Vietnam for Now, Aviation Authority Says

Aviation authorities will temporarily stop considering the licensing of new airlines while focusing on helping existing airlines recover in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic.

"The government now has to focus on resuming domestic and international routes and supporting existing airlines, which have been hit hard by the outbreak,” the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) said on Wednesday. They added: "The establishment of new airlines will resume when the pandemic passes."

Three airlines — Vietravel Airlines, Kite Air and Vietstar Airlines — were all in the permitting process with hopes of taking off in the near future. Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, VietJet Air, Vietnam Air Services Company (Vasco) and Bamboo Airways, the five domestic airlines currently in operation, will, therefore, handle the entirety of the country's air travel.

The drop in tourism and remaining travel restrictions have had devastating effects on the local aviation industry. Experts predict a 43% drop in arrivals this year compared to last. Vietnam Airlines alone lost over US$110 million in the first quarter, a figure eclipsing its entire 2019 profit.

While Dinh Viet Thang, Director of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam, said that a full recovery might not occur until mid-2021, there are some signs for optimism. Since social distancing was eased on April 23rd, domestic flights have been running at near-capacity. International flights are expected to resume, in a limited capacity, next month. 

[Photo via Flickr user Alan Wilson

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