The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could grant Vietnam catetory 1 status in the coming weeks, setting the stage for direct services between the two countries.
A 31 January report from Reuters cited sources as saying that category 1 could come “soon.”
FlightGlobal has yet to receive comment from the FAA on the matter. Vietnam has no FAA rating.
Last August, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) announced a four-person FAA delegation had visited the country, though the FAA declined to confirm or deny the activity.
“To achieve a Category 1 rating under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, a country must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance,” said the FAA in response to FlightGlobal.
“The FAA will make an announcement if Vietnam is assigned a rating under the IASA program in the future.”
Vietnam Airlines, Bamboo Airways, and VietJet Air have all previously discussed the potential for USA services.
In December 2017, Vietnam Airlines executive vice-president Le Hong Ha told FlightGlobal that the carrier hoped to launch USA services by the end of 2019.
Vietnam Airlines has assessed both the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350-1000 for the 7,098nm Ho Chi Minh City-Los Angeles route. Absent the deployment of these aircraft in its fleet by the end of 2019, it planned to use the A350-900 with a technical stop in Osaka, Japan.
He added that USA-Vietnam market is one of the largest in the world without direct links. It is now served through hubs in South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China.
In June 2018, seven months before receiving its air operator’s certificate, start-up Bamboo Airways committed to ordering 20 787-9s, citing plans to operate the type on USA and Europe routes.
VietJet Air has flirted with the idea of a long-haul, low-cost unit for years. While company executives have discussed the idea, they bring up the opportunity offered by direct USA flights.