Vietnam-US direct air routes may begin in 2018

In the first quarter of 2017, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will send staff to Vietnam to assess Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam’s (CAAV) safety supervision capability in preparation for Vietnamese air carriers to open direct air routes to the US, with no transit in third countries.

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Vietnam Airlines, the nation’s flag air carrier, began preparing to provide direct flights to the US 10 years ago. But it still cannot because of various reasons, including the capability of the agency in charge of safety supervision. 

CAAV’s head Lai Xuan Thanh said in November 2016, CAAV sent staff to the US to report to FAA about the completion of the aviation safety supervision system. 

FAA plans to come to Vietnam to give assessment about the system and may grant CAT1 in accordance with IASA standards (international aviation safety assessment) to CAAV.

Once getting approval from FAA, the US Department of Transportation will consider granting freedom to Vietnam’s airlines to open direct air routes to the US.

Vietnam’s airlines now have direct air routes to nearly all regions in the world, except North America, even though Vietnam and the US signed a bilateral air transport pact in 2004, which allow Vietnamese and US air carriers to open direct air routes to Vietnam and the US.

Once getting approval from FAA, the US Department of Transportation will consider granting freedom to Vietnam’s airlines to open direct air routes to the US.

Besides commercial reasons, analyst say the major problem lies in technical barriers. In other words, the Vietnamese management agency still cannot meet safety supervision requirements as per FAA standards.

Vietnam Airlines is making hectic preparations in resources and techniques to become the first Vietnamese airline to open direct air routes to the western coast of the US, where many Viet Kieu  (overseas Vietnamese) live.

A source from Vietnam Airlines said the air carrier is taking necessary steps to set up a direct air route to the US by 2018. 

Regarding the fleet, Vietnam Airlines would use Airbus 350 XWB and Boeing 789-9.

“We began preparing for the plan 10 years ago. We have the fleet and equipment. The next issues to consider are market demand and efficiency of the air routes,” he said. “This is the right time to open direct air routes to the US.”

A CAAV report shows that the aviation market in 2016 witnessed strong growth in passenger and cargo air transport output and flight regulation. 

The watchdog agency said the work of ensuring aviation safety was implemented well in a year of increased growth rate in aviation.

This was the 19th consecutive year Vietnam ensured safety for flights with no serious accidents.

Source Vietnamnet