When will there be direct flights to the US?
In December 2003, the Vietnam-US Bilateral Air Transport Agreement was signed, allowing air carriers to open direct air routes between the two countries. Two years after the day the agreement was signed, each country had the right to designate up two airlines to provide direct flights between Vietnam and the US.
On the US side, United Airlines became the only American air carrier providing direct flights to Vietnam. It flew from San Francisco to HCMC with transit in Hong Kong.
However, in 2016, the air carrier suspended the route. Analysts said the market was not good enough for the carrier to keep exploiting the route.
Vietnam Airlines, the nation’s flag air carrier, has many times mentioned the possibility of setting up a direct air route to the west coast of the US. However, the plan has stalled.
Analysts said there are many reasons concerning both market and technical conditions hindering Vietnam Airlines from moving ahead.
The US is well known for its strict requirements on flight safety. Before granting licenses to any airline to fly to the US, the country’s aeronautical authorities will consider and give assessments about flight providers and agencies in charge of state management over the airlines.
In order to obtain a license to fly to the US, airlines and aeronautical authorities must be official members of IATA (International Air Transport Association) and have certificates on meeting flight safety IOSA (The IATA Operational Safety Audit) and on extended range operations with twin-engine aircrafts.
The aeronautical authorities must prove that they have capability to monitor flight safety in accordance with US standards and be recognized by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
According to CAAV, the agency still has not received CAT1 (category 1) certificate. Thus, Vietnam’s air carriers cannot open direct air routes to the US.
In an agreement signed with Boeing in 2015, CAAV planned to obtain CAT1 in the fourth quarter of the year. However, this was later delayed until the third quarter of 2016.
Most recently, in order to settle the problem, the Ministry of Transport agreed to allocate $40,000, so that CAAV could cooperate with the FAA to carry out a technical review, slated for May 2017, to check CAAV’s overall capability for flight safety monitoring in accordance with ICAO’s regulations.
A local newspaper reported that 689,000 passengers travelled between Vietnam and the US in 2016. There are no direct routes between the two countries at the moment.
M. Ha, VNN