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Vaccine passport: The door for Vietnam's aviation to "transform" amid the pandemic?

09:10 | 03/09/2021

VCN - The successful implementation of the IATA Travel Pass – electronic health passport by Vietnam Airlines – has brought a lot of expectations to the aviation industry amid the complicated developments of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, according to many experts, the aviation industry will still need more to be able to transform.

Vaccine passport: The door for Vietnam's aviation to
Vietnam Airlines hopes that the successful test of the electronic health passport will serve as a basis for the Government to consider officially recognizing this mechanism. Photo: VNA.

Open the sky

According to Vietnam Airlines, this is the first time that passengers have successfully participated in the trial of the IATA Travel Pass, marking an important milestone of the program and opening up many positive expectations in the next test flights.

The IATA Travel Pass is one of the most promising solutions for Vietnam to restore international flight routes quickly and safely, opening up opportunities for the tourism and aviation industry after being heavily affected by Covid-19.

The successful test results are also a positive signal after Vietnam Airlines officially announced the cooperation program with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) under the agreement the two sides signed in May. Vietnam Airlines will continue to pilot the pass on flights from Hanoi to Tokyo from now until the end of August 2021 and flight VN5055 from Hanoi to London on September 2, 2021.

As countries around the world, including Vietnam, are facing serious consequences due to the Delta variant, many countries are conducting vaccinations for people in a synchronous manner, the passport vaccines are expected to be effective. This will become a "shield" to help countries become more confident when easing travel restrictions, helping the aviation industry recover soon, promoting trade and economic development on the basis of ensuring disease safety.

At the same time, Vietnam Airlines hopes that the successful test of the electronic health passport will serve as a basis for the Government to consider and officially recognize this mechanism, creating momentum to open the sky and speed up the schedule to resume international flights in the near future.

Can't stay passive

However, in the opinion of experts, the vaccine passport is just a door for aviation businesses to reopen, but cannot resuscitate airlines that are sunk in losses and need to have more radical and long-term support measures.

According to statistics and reports of businesses, only three airlines including Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air, Bamboo Airways together with ACV and VATM have 40,000 officers and employees, generating revenue of VND180,000 billion in 2019. As for the budget, the aviation industry contributes over VND22 trillion in taxes and fees/year. Revenue in 2020 of three major airlines reached about VND63 trillion, down by 60% compared to 2019.

Contributing greatly to the state budget, but due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, so far, short-term and due debts of the three airlines are about VND36 trillion. Vietnam Airlines expects a loss of up to VND10,000 billion in the first six months of 2021 and a loss of VND14,500 billion for the whole of 2021. Currently, some airlines have had to temporarily let some collaborators quit, even owe the salaries of pilots and flight attendants.

In that context, according to Dr. Nguyen Sy Hung, former President of Vietnam Airlines, in order to support aviation businesses, it is necessary to focus on three main groups of solutions. Firstly, SCIC can invest in private airlines, which can be considered an effective investment later on.

Secondly, aviation enterprises need to restructure industries and means. Specifically the fleet is accounting for an extremely large proportion of capital.

Thirdly, when approving the aviation strategy in general as well as each airline in particular, the State needs to have a long-term overview, to be on the lookout for a bad scenario, but not to be in a passive position.

IATA Travel Pass integrates some leading digital solutions such as contactless travel, biometric data, electronic health certificates such as test results, COVID-19 vaccinations. This is a secure application that ensures consistent information between parties including government, testing facilities, airlines and passengers. Currently, Singapore, Panama, Qatar and Saudi Arabia are the countries that have officially agreed to allow passengers to use this application to entry. In addition, more than 50 airlines have announced the test, such as Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, Emirates.

By Xuan Thao/ Kieu Oanh