Vietnamese airlines are preparing to launch direct flights to the US. Three local airlines, including flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, are expected to start nonstop US-bound flights as early as this year, which will shorten the travel time by about eight hours, stated a report in NIKKEI Asian Review.
Flights now take 20.5 hours to fly from Ho Chi Minh City, the nation’s commercial center, to San Francisco via South Korea’s Incheon International Airport. Direct service to San Francisco or other major cities in West Coast areas would take only about 13 hours.
In February, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration announced that Vietnam complies with international safety standards, opening the door to Vietnamese airlines’ direct services to the US.
The FAA has granted the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam a Category 1 rating under its International Aviation Safety Assessment program, which means the authority meets standards for personnel licensing, operations and airworthiness.
For years, Vietnam’s efforts to obtain US approval of direct flights were frustrated by its aviation authority’s failure to meet international standards in terms of its air traffic control and incident response capabilities. The authority’s Category 1 rating will allow Vietnamese carriers equipped to secure US authorization to start flying directly to the US.