The Hanoitimes - Besides Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air and Bamboo Airways have plans to open direct flights to the US.
Vietnamese airlines now can operate direct air service to the United State as Vietnam complies with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) safety standards and has been granted a Category 1 rating by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
US Ambassador Daniel J. Kritenbrink today delivered the letter from FAA to Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam Dinh Viet Thang and congratulates Vietnam on achieving a Category 1 aviation safety rating.
US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel J. Kritenbrink delivers letter from FAA to Director General of Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam Dinh Viet Thang. Photo: US Embassy
“In the spirit of partnership, we are proud to offer our congratulations to Vietnam on this substantial milestone,” the US Embassy in Hanoi said in a statement.
The Category 1 status is based on an August 2018 FAA assessment of the safety oversight provided by Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority. The Category 1 is the result of years of diligent work by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam and the Ministry of Transportation.
With Category 1 status Vietnamese air carriers will be able to establish direct service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers upon completion of the necessary remaining steps, including Vietnamese airports earning approvals to comply with ICAO security standards and recommended practices from the US Transportation Security Administration, and Vietnamese airlines earning economic authority from the US Department of Transportation.
National carrier Vietnam Airlines has repeatedly stated that it wants to launch flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Los Angeles using the Airbus A350-900, though as of now nothing official has been announced yet.
Vietnam Airlines’ CEO Duong Tri Thanh told Reuters in a story filed in February 2018 that making money flying to the US will be nearly impossible and it will take years to reach the breakeven.
Thanh said his airline benefited from a diaspora of 2 million Vietnamese living in the United States, but most of the traffic was more likely to be driven by price rather than the convenience of saving a few hours of travel time.
“The plan is the end of 2019. But if it is not feasible and it is too much we have to wait to find a way to work with partners to improve the traffic mix. Like most of the airlines, like Philippines and Thai, we don’t have enough business travelers. We are just dependent on visiting friends and relatives. That is no way to make money,” Thanh said.
Besides Vietnam Airlines, VietJet Air and Bamboo Airways have plans to open direct flights to the US.
During 2018, the number of American arrivals to Vietnam increased 11.9% year-on-year to 687,200, according to Vietnam’s official data.