Direct flights to US remain pipedream for Vietnam carriers

Seven years after it signed an aviation agreement with the US, Vietnam remains unable to establish direct flights to that country because of its inability to achieve international aviation safety standards.

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines is unable to start direct flights to the US since Vietnamese aviation agencies are unable to achieve international safety standards (Photo: SGGP)

Meanwhile, after Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization, more than 10 airlines carry passengers from the US to Vietnam, with three American carriers – United Airlines, Delta Airlines and American Airlines -- operating direct flights.
According to the Vietnam Aviation Department, operating direct flights to the US is very difficult.
Lai Xuan Thanh, the department’s deputy head, said it depends not only on technology and business but also administrative factors and ability to monitor safety.
Though Vietnam satisfies most requirements, his department has been unable to fulfill the US’ requirements on supervising flight safety, he said.
A few years ago, the US Federal Aviation Administration sent a mission to Vietnam for starting direct flights and checking safety standards.
The US then provided US$1.4 million for a project to raise Vietnam’s capability to supervise flight safety to international standards.
His department has completed the first of the project’s three phases, which involves drafting aviation safety regulations Mr. Thanh said.
It is now implementing the second and third phases, which include building a data system and having well-qualified personnel, he said.
The latter poses the biggest difficulty, he said, explaining that since the existing wage structure is too low, it is hard to find good pilots and engineers.

To open direct flights to the US, the following criteria have to be achieved:
Be a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), get an IATA Operational Safety Audit license and a certificate to expand range when flying over the sea, and aviation agencies have to be able to supervise safety according to US standards.

By Thu Tuyet – Translated by Yen Chuong

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