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Vietnam Aviation Safety Standard Approved by US for Future Direct Flights

Vietnamese flight carriers can now open direct flights from Vietnam to the United States.

On February 14, the US Department of Transportation's Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that Vietnam's aviation industry meets international safety standard, according to the press release on the government agency website.

The FAA grants the country a Category 1 rating in its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, meaning that Vietnam complies with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards established by United Nations. “The Category 1 status announced today is based on an August 2018 FAA assessment of the safety oversight provided by the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam,” FAA said in its statement.

This rating means that Vietnamese carriers are now licensed to not only open direct flight routes to the United States but also carry US carriers flight codes in case of a codeshare agreement.

Vietnamese airlines welcomed the news with a mix of excitement and worry, reports Tuoi Tre. Duong Tri Thanh, general director of Vietnam Airlines, told the newspaper that it would take his company five years to start profiting from the Vietnam-US routes. Estimated annual loss will be US$30 million. Fierce competition from already-established names in the US aviation market will also make the company's expansion more challenging. 

Vietnam Airlines is in the process of launching a Ho Chi Minh City–Los Angeles direct flight route that operates four times a week.

“It’s being pushed by the government. But it’s very hard to make that route profitable. It’s a license to lose money,” said Brendan Sobie, a Singapore-based analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation, to Bloomberg.

Other carriers such as VietJet and Bamboo Airways were also pleased about the approval and expressed interests in future plans to expand their service to the US. VietJet was already planning a direct route to California in 2019. However, these two carriers don't currently own any wide-body aircraft suitable for long haul flights.

[Photo via Airgways]

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