Vietnam's beleaguered hydrofoil firms will launch their first Ho Chi Minh City - Vung Tau voyage on December 23 following a year-long ban on the service.
Bui Cong Trung, chairman of Vina Expres, was quoted by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper as saying Thursday that they are taking the final steps to put the hydrofoils back in operation on December 23.
The fares for each trip, with each hydrofoil departing from HCMC to Vung Tau and vice versa every two hours, are VND200,000 (US$9.4) per adult and VND100,000 for per child. The fares are VND250,000 and VND120,000 respectively on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.
Tran Quoc Hieu, deputy director of Quang Hung Company, also known as Petro Express, said they will put one hydrofoil back in service by January 1, and another soon after.
The HCMC administration signed an agreement on Monday to allow the operation of hydrofoils that meet enhanced quality and safety requirements.
Hydrofoils once provided a popular means of transportation because they cut bus travel time in half.
The city halted the service on January 20 after a Vina Express boat caught fire some 15 minutes after departing the Bach Dang Wharf in downtown HCMC.
All 85 passengers managed to safely jump overboard after the captain piloted the vessel into shallow waters where the boat burned to cinders.
Transport officials later learned that the boat was 20 years old. Eight other hydrofoils at the time were discovered to be between 19 and 25 years old.
Following a post-incident inspection of the entire fleet, the inspectors announced that all of them were in bad shape.
A new decree on waterway traffic safety that will go into effect next year will establish a 20-year operational limit on high-speed passenger vessels traveling the inland waterways.
The decree also bans the commercial operation of metal and fiberglass passenger boats that are over 30 years old.
Wooden boats are permitted to be no older than 25 and tourism boats which contain restaurants or overnight accommodations can be no more than 35 years of age.
The law, which will take effect on January 5, 2015, gives non-compliant boats two extra years to meet the new requirements.
For example, those that become too old on January 5 will be allowed to operate until the end of 2016, so long as they submit to and pass regular safety inspections.
Boats that exceed the new limits after January 2017 will receive no grace period.