Hanoi – Vietnamese airlines are now able to fly to the US and codeshare with US carriers after the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) declared that the Southeast Asian country complies with international safety standards under the agency’s International Aviation Safety Assessment programme.
The US Embassy in Vietnam officially granted its host country with the Category 1 (CAT 1) rating on February 15.
According to Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) Dinh Viet Thang, acquiring the CAT 1 will help to elevate Vietnamese airlines’ position and prestige to a new high.
There are currently no direct flights between Vietnam and the US, thus passengers are currently having to transit in different countries and territories like China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
The Vietnamese Government had approved plans early last year to expand the network of national carriers to major markets including Australia, China, Europe, and the US.
Vietnam and the US signed an air transport agreement in 2003 to allow carriers from each country to operate unlimited direct air services in both directions.
In 2004, Vietnam Airlines sought permission from the US to provide direct services. However, the request was denied because the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) did not meet the safety supervision requirements set by the FAA.
After that, the CAAV made concerted efforts to advance progress in safety and air navigation with strong support from Boeing – the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners, as well as defence, space, and security systems – and the work has now finally paid off.
Thang said that attaining the CAT 1 rating has been a hard job, but that maintaining the status is much more difficult, especially as the aviation sector is experiencing strong growth, with dramatic increases in the number of airplanes and airports, as well as heavy air traffic.
Meanwhile, the FAA requires competent authorities to unceasingly improve their management capacity, of which human resources training must be at the centre of attention.
Regarding plans to open direct flights to the US, Thang said Vietnam Airlines, low-cost Vietjet Air, and the new comer Bamboo Airways desire to fly to the American nation.
While exploring the potential of the US route, Vietnamese airlines should also be well-prepared before entering this fastidious market, he said.
Several challenges still lay ahead, including investment in the long-haul fleet which will be quite costly, fierce competition with foreign airlines, and a complicated justice system to work with, he stressed.