Vietnamese aviation authority close to all clear for direct flights to US

By Doan Loan   April 18, 2017 | 03:42 am PT
Vietnamese aviation authority close to all clear for direct flights to US
A Vietnam Airlines aircraft. Photo by VnExpress/Xuan Hoa
Vietnam Airlines will launch direct flights to the U.S. next year if safety protocols meet stringent standards.

Vietnam’s aviation authority is likely to have its safety credentials approved by the United States next month as part of the process to allow Vietnamese airlines to open direct flights to the U.S., a Vietnamese aviation official said.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to grant its approval in May for the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) to get its Category 1 (CAT1) rating, which recognizes the CAAV as having the capacity to ensure safety on Vietnamese airlines.

“Pending further good results, the FAA will give official recognition this year,” CAAV director Lai Xuan Thanh told VnExpress.

The CAAV currently follows standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, but in order to earn the CAT1 it has to make certain improvements, including completing a new set of regulations, ensuring a sufficient number of staff and improving its supervisory capacity.

Thanh said Vietnam is prepared for the overall assessment on aviation safety supervision and U.S. evaluation.

After receiving the CAT1 rating, the CAAV will supervise airlines based in Vietnam and ensure they are eligible to operate direct flights to the U.S.

Vietnam and the United States signed an air transport agreement in 2003 to allow airlines to operate direct flights between the two countries.

In 2004, national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines sought permission from the U.S. to provide direct services. However, the request was denied because the CAAV did not meet safety supervision requirements set by the FAA.

The airline said it has reapplied to the U.S. Department of Transportation to launch direct flights, and if Vietnam gets the CAT1 rating, Vietnam Airlines will start offering the service in 2018.

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