The government said it would also stop issuing visas for foreign visitors who had been in China in the past two weeks.

All permits granted for flights between Vietnam and China, including Hong Kong and Macau as well as self-ruled Taiwan which China claims as its territory, have been revoked until further notice, the government said in a statement.

But Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said in a later statement that it had spoken to the Vietnamese government and had the ban on flights to the island lifted.

Taiwan’s largest carrier, China Airlines, also said flights had returned to normal after it was forced to cancel a service to Hanoi on Saturday.

Vietnam’s civil aviation authority confirmed that carriers could still operate flights to Taiwan, but flights to mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau were still suspended.

Taiwan is a major investor in Vietnam, investing some $32 billion in the past three decades.

Taiwan is also upset that Italy has canceled flights by China Airlines between Taipei and Rome as part of Italy’s ban on flights from China, though China Airlines will be allowed to carry back stranded passengers on Monday.

Johnson Chiang, head of the Taiwan Foreign Ministry’s Europe department, told reporters in Taipei that was because the World Health Organization, which follows Beijing’s guidance and considers Taiwan part of China, had included the island in its warnings about the extent of the virus in China.

Taiwan has only reported 10 cases of the virus, compared to almost 12,000 in China, including 259 deaths.

Budget carrier Vietjet Air and the national firm, Vietnam Airlines, earlier said they would suspend all flights to and from China from Feb. 1.

By Phuong Nguyen - Reuters - February 2, 2020


Vietnam reverses Taiwan flight ban after causing chaos

Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) has confirmed that Vietnam has withdrawn its previous announcement that it was imposing a ban on flights with Taiwan to keep the threat of spreading coronavirus at bay.

Vietnam's civil aviation authorities announced a ban on all flights to and from China, Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan for a period of 90 days that was to take effect Saturday.

It even issued four separate "Notice to Airmen" (NOTAM) sent to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) announcing the discontinuation of all flights between Vietnam and the four countries and territories.

But the Vietnamese civil aviation authority did a quick about face, reversing the ban on flights with Taiwan, according to both the CAA and VietJet Air, which had three planes at Taoyuan International Airport waiting to return to Vietnam after the ban took effect.

It was not immediately clear if Vietnam was only lifting the ban for Taiwan and not the other three countries and territories.

Vietnam's initial move came amid growing concern over the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2018-nCoV) in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 that has ballooned into 11,791 confirmed cases and 259 deaths in China as of Friday.

Several countries around the world, including Taiwan, have taken steps to restrict or block air travel with all or parts of China to keep the virus at bay.

But Vietnam's initial ban created uncertainty for flights between Taiwan and Vietnam on Saturday afternoon.

Taiwanese startup airline StarLux Airlines had to abandon its flight JX1701 for Da Nang when it was notified by the tower at 3:22 p.m. before taking off that Vietnam had stopped all flights between Vietnam and China, Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong.

The plane, which pulled out of the gate at 3:15 p.m., remained on the apron for nearly two hours and passengers were actually fed a meal while waiting before being allowed to disembark at around 5 p.m.

EVA Airways flight 385 actually took off for Hanoi at 3:01 p.m. but was forced to turn around in mid-air because of the restrictions and landed back at Taoyuan International Airport at around 5:20 p.m.

The airline said it would cancel the flight and return flight BR386 scheduled for later in the day, and EVA Air subsidiary UNI Airways has also canceled round-trip flights B7-29 and B7-30 between Taoyuan and Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, respectively.

VietJet Air had three aircraft in limbo at Taoyuan International Airport because of the confusion.

Flight VJ-909 scheduled to leave for Da Nang at 4:40 p.m., and flights VJ-943 to Hanoi and VJ-843 to Ho Chi Minh City, scheduled to depart at 7 p.m., were all listed as delayed on the airport's website.

Following Vietnam's reversal, however, Starlux said it will fly flight JX-1701 that it aborted earlier in the day at 11 p.m., and VietJet Air said it will operate flights as scheduled, including the three delayed flights.

EVA Air will stick to its cancellations of flights BR385 and BR386, but will operate its other flights as scheduled, while Uni Air flight B7-29 will depart at 11 p.m., with other flights operating normally.

A move by Vietnam to ban flights between the two countries would have had severe ramifications, considering there are 245 flights a week from Taiwan to the Southeast Asian country a week, and Vietnam is a major investment and tourist destination for Taiwanese.

By Emerson Lim & Lee Hsin-Yin - Focus Taiwan - February 1st, 2020