Two flights from HCMC to Hanoi were suspended Friday due to a lack of quarantine facilities for incoming passengers, with additional flights in the next two days canceled.
Vietnam Airlines, the only carrier to operate HCMC-Hanoi flights at this time, said two Friday flights with nearly 300 passengers each had been suspended following an order of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV).
However, the airline did not have enough time to notify their customers. Passengers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport, having learned their flights had been canceled, reacted angrily and demanded the airline refund them, arrange hotels, and pay for their Covid-19 tests.
Some passengers said they had already ended their tenancy in Ho Chi Minh City to fly back to Hanoi, so they had no accommodation.
Airline representatives subsequently changed some tickets and offered refunds.
The Southern Airports Authority stated by 11 p.m. the same day, the last 10 affected passengers left the airport after receiving their money.
Vo Huy Cuong, deputy head of CAAV, said relevant agencies in Hanoi have prepared plans to receive 200 to 400 passengers a day from HCMC and that all would be taken to military-run centralized quarantine facilities as part of the capital’s measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
However, city authorities on Friday announced they are incapable of receiving more HCMC arrivals due to lack of quarantine space after nearly 300 passengers arrived in Hanoi on Thursday, Cuong said.
All flights from HCMC to Hanoi scheduled to depart Saturday and Sunday have been canceled too.
CAAV reported the incident to the Ministry of Transport to ask Hanoi authorities to arrange centralized quarantine facilities for passengers arriving from HCMC.
The government earlier decided to further reduce the number of daily flights between HCMC and Hanoi to two from Thursday while Hanoi authorities required all arrivals from 19 southern localities including HCMC to undergo 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arriving.
On July 9 authorities had cut the number of flights from 13 to eight and stipulated a maximum of 1,700 passengers could fly in a day.
Hanoi entered its 15-day social distancing campaign starting Saturday with more stringent measures after the capital detected new Covid clusters with unidentified transmission sources.