The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted Vietnam a category 1 safety rating, opening the way for Vietnamese carriers to fly to the US for the first time.
The FAA, which had not previously assessed Vietnamese authorities, said the decision to award the category 1 status under its International Aviation Safety Assessment program was based on an August 2018 examination of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam.
The move allows carriers such as Vietnam Airlines, VietJet and Bamboo Airways to fly to the US or codehare with US carriers.
There are currently no non-stop flights between the US and Vietnam and both Vietnam and Bamboo have indicated they would like to fly there.
The FAA uses its IASA program to determine whether a country’s oversight of its airlines complies with International Civil Aviation Organization safety standards.
It focuses on eight critical safety elements including primary aviation legislation, specific operating regulations, safety oversight functions and the training and qualifications of technical personnel.
It also looks at how a country meets licensing, certification, authorization, and approval obligations as well as surveillance and resolution of safety concerns.
“A Category 1 rating means Vietnam’s civil aviation authority meets International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards for personnel licensing, operations, and airworthiness,’’ the FAA said.
“With the Category 1 rating, Vietnamese air carriers that are able to secure the requisite FAA and Department of Transportation (DOT) authority can establish service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers’’
Route expert OAG estimated recently that international airline capacity to Vietnam has almost doubled in the last three years, growing from 24 million seats in 2015 to 42 million in 2018.
South Korea is Vietnam’s biggest inbound market and there was strong growth from China, with airlines adding 49 new routes between Vietnam and China in the last three years to reach a total of 93 in 2018.
Other high growth is coming from Europe, the Middle East and Russia.
“For the first time in 2018, there were more airline seats on international routes than domestic ones, boosted undoubtedly by the decision in 2018 to offer visa-free travel to residents from 24 countries,’’ OAG said.
“Over 90 percent of Vietnam’s international capacity currently operates to other destinations in Asia.”