The Federal Aviation Administration has finally granted a Category 1 safety rating to Vietnam, opening the way for the country’s carriers to operate services to the US.
The FAA dispatched a team to Vietnam last year to conduct safety assessments.
The category 1 rating also enables carriers to codeshare with US airlines.
“It’s recognition by a very developed aviation authority which requires a very high standard of safety and security,” Vietnamese Deputy Transportation Minister Nguyen Ngoc Dong told Reuters.
The rating takes into account operations and airworthiness and to maintain the Category 1 rating, a country’s aviation industry must adhere to standards laid out by the ICAO.
Flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has expressed a desire to operate direct to the US, and is on an expansion drive adding new regional routes .
Vietnam air passenger traffic continues to grow a rapid pace with average growth of 16% since 2010.
“For Vietnam Airlines, launching routes to the U.S. is our political responsibility as a national airline. Whether or not the route is commercially feasible depends quite a lot on technical issues and aircraft,” the airline said in a statement.
It could be joined by fast growing budget carrier VietJet, which has been eyeing flights to the West Coast, although it could be some way off yet as it needs new wide-body jets capable of transpacific flights.
“We plan to open routes to cities with Vietnamese communities living in the United States such as in California, serving the large traveling and commercial demand from customers,” said VietJet vice president To Viet Thang.