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Ho Chi Minh City-Vung Tau hydrofoil service to fully recover
By Dinh Muoi - Thanh Nien News -
 A Greenlines DP's hydrofoil boat. Photo: Dinh Muoi
A popular hydrofoil route between Ho Chi Minh City and the southern beach town of Vung Tau, which has been crippled by a months-long ban last year following a string of accidents, is expected to fully recover this November.
Greenlines DP, one of the three operators on the route, will be the last to resume its operation.
The company announced on Sunday that its service will be back with five boats which were locally produced in accordance with European standards.
At the cost of US$1 million, each boat can carry 60 passengers, Greenlines said, promising that the boats will operate with high safety, despite the high speed of 55-60 kilometers per hour.
A one-way trip is expected to cost about VND250,000 ($11) and take about one hour and 15 minutes, almost equal to road travel's time.
Last December Vina Express and Petro Express were back to their business, almost right after the ban was lifted. They supposedly got rid of worn-out boats and upgraded the rest in accordance with new safety requirements set by the transport ministry.
Vietnamese authorities suspended the hydrofoil service between HCMC and Vung Tau in January last year, after a Vina Express hydrofoil caught fire just some 15 minutes after leaving HCMC.
All the 85 passengers, including many foreigners, and seven crew members managed to jumped off the burning boat and survived.
Authorities later learned that the doomed boat was 20 years old, and that eight other hydrofoils which were in operation at the time were between 19-25 years old.
Soon after it began operating in 1993, the hydrofoil service had become a quick, popular alternative to bus travel for people commuting between HCMC and Vung Tau. The boats made 19-26 trips every day, carrying nearly 800,000 passengers per year, before the suspension order.