Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways will suspend the Danang-Seoul Incheon and Nha Trang-Incheon routes in an effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus following a directive from Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
The two routes to South Korea are flown with Airbus A321neo aircraft and primarily shuttle South Korean tourists. The services will be suspended indefinitely on Feb. 26.
The suspension of the two routes “is an extremely important and necessary action to actively contribute to preventing the spread of epidemic,” Bamboo said in a statement. The airline encouraged passengers to return home to either Vietnam or South Korea before the Feb. 26 deadline and said it will assist passengers with flight options.
The airline said the flights will be suspended “until the epidemic is under control.” South Korea has the largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China reporting 893 infected as of Feb. 25.
Tourism between Vietnam and South Korea has boomed in recent years after Vietnam introduced a visa waiver program for South Koreans. Vietnam is now the second most popular international tourist destination for South Koreans after China with 3.1 million South Koreans visiting in the first nine months of 2019, a 19% increase on the same period in 2018. Meanwhile 523,010 Vietnamese visited South Korea in the whole of 2019.
There were 11 airlines flying between Danang and Seoul as of October 2019. Of those carriers, Bamboo launched its route most recently, beginning daily Danang-Incheon service in January 2019. Bamboo started daily Nha Trang-Incheon service in November 2019.
Bamboo currently flies to 40 markets—a mix of domestic and international routes—with a fleet of 28 aircraft. The fast-growing airline expects to take delivery of 22 aircraft in 2020 and will operate 12 Boeing 787-9s by the end of the year.