Vietnam Airlines can set up a straight flight to the US if the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants Vietnam Category 1 status in the coming weeks, setting the stage for direct services between the two countries.
|Vietnam Airlines plans to open a flight to Los Angeles from Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam airlines currently has no non-stop flights to the US, despite the large demand by tourism and visiting friends and relatives. Therefore, customers who want to fly from Vietnam to the US and vice versa need to transit at major airports in Asian cities like Hong Kong, Seoul or Tokyo.
The FAA is expected to grant a Category 1 rating to Vietnam soon, giving its airlines the opportunity to fly to the US and code-share with American carriers, two anonymous US officials said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.
The FAA has yet to officially comment on the matter. Some Vietnamese aviation corporations like Vietnam Airlines, Bamboo Airways or Vietjet Air have expressed the desire to fly to the US, but are barred from doing so until the country receives the Category 1 rating.
In last August, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) announced that an FAA delegation visited the country, though the FAA declined to confirm or deny the news.
“To achieve a Category 1 rating under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme, a country must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance,” said the FAA in response to FlightGlobal.
“The FAA will make an announcement if Vietnam is assigned a rating under the IASA programme in the future.”
In December 2017, Vietnam Airlines executive vice-president Le Hong Ha said that the carrier was hoping to launch US services by the end of 2019.
Data from the country’s civil aviation regulator shows that Vietnam had a remarkable annual passenger growth rate of 16 per cent between 2010 and 2017, with further growth forecast at 14 per cent to 2020, and 10 per cent to 2030, breaking into the top 3 in Southeast Asia.
Its airlines, which also include budget carriers Vietjet and Jetstar Pacific, are major customers of Boeing Co. and Airbus SE.
Vietnam Airlines is considering using Boeing 777X or Airbus A350-1000 for the more than 16-hour straight flight between Ho Chi Minh City and Los Angeles, US.
In case it cannot secure these aircraft by the end of 2019, Vietnam Airlines will use A350-900 aircraft with a technical stop in Osaka, Japan.
Seven months before receiving the air operator certificate and to prepare for the plan to conquer the international route to the US and Europe, Bamboo Airways also committed to ordering 20 787-9s.
With the latest player (Bamboo Airways) and the opening of Van Don International Airport, Vietnam aviation market is expected to achieve positive results in 2019.
Regarding the 2019 plan, Airport Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) will continue to invest in, upgrade, and renovate the airport infrastructure, especially focusing on and prioritising all resources to invest in the construction and development of strategic airports like Long Thanh.
Some projects will be implemented in 2019, including the expansion of the parking spaces at high-frequency airports such as Noi Bai, Tan Son Nhat, Danang, Cam Ranh, Lien Khuong, Cat Bi, Vinh, and Phu Bai.