Vietnam Airlines Fights For Direct US Route
HANOI, Jan 15 (Bernama) — Vietnam’s flag carrier Vietnam Airlines plans to launch the first direct route between Vietnam and US this year, with the destination being either San Francisco or Los Angeles in California, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.
According to Deputy Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) Vo Huy Cuong, they are facing many challenges to open the route, especially the fierce competition from airlines already operating in the US market.
The US airline market is being exploited by many firms, who operate routes from the US to Vietnam through transit points. There are many options for passengers, as they can fly from the US to Vietnam via Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, mainland China or Malaysia.
For example, the transit points in Japan and South Korea, both have two major Japanese and South Korean airlines directly flying to the US, which can connect flights to Vietnam seamlessly, Cuong said.
Meanwhile, passengers who want to fly to Vietnam from the US’s eastern region can also transit in European countries, such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany, before connecting with flights to Vietnam.
“The competition is very fierce, so the Vietnamese airlines planning to fly directly to the US must analyse and evaluate the situation carefully,” said Cuong.
In addition to economic licences permitted under the Air Transport agreement signed between the US and Vietnam, the Vietnamese airlines also need a licence granted by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is mandatory for all international airlines that want to fly into the US, said Cuong.
To obtain the licence from the FAA, he said the CAAV would have to reach CAT1 or FAA-standard safety supervision requirements, a prerequisite for Vietnamese airlines to start direct flights to the US.
Currently, passengers travelling from Vietnam to the US have to make at least one stop in another Asian cities, such as Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai and Beijing, with the total time taken to travel being up to 24 hours.
The US is the fourth largest source of foreign visitors to Vietnam, with more than 614,000 people coming in 2017, up 11 per cent from 2016, according to the General Statistics Office.