By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration late Thursday declared Vietnam complies with international safety standards, giving its airlines the opportunity to fly to the United States and codeshare with American carriers.
The U.S. aviation safety agency said it was awarding Vietnam a “Category 1” rating two weeks after Reuters reported the decision was expected.
There are currently no non-stop flights between the two countries, despite a large market catering to tourism and visits by friends and relatives.
Vietnam Airlines JSC and Bamboo Airways have both expressed the desire to fly to the United States, but were unable to do so until the Southeast Asian nation received the Category 1 rating.
The FAA said the decision means Vietnam complies with international safety standards “and has been granted a Category 1 rating under the agency’s International Aviation Safety Assessment program.”
The agency added that “Vietnamese air carriers that are able to secure the requisite FAA and DOT (Department of Transportation) authority can establish service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers.”
Last year, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration sent a team to Vietnam to conduct a safety assessment.
Unlike Thailand, which once had a Category 1 rating and is seeking to regain it after a downgrade to Category 2, Vietnam did not previously hold a FAA rating.
Vietnam’s rapidly growing aviation market saw traffic increase 16 percent on average each year from 2010 to 2017, data from its civil aviation regulator shows.
Its airlines, which also include budget carriers VietJet Aviation JSC and Jetstar Pacific, are major customers of Boeing (NYSE:) Co and Airbus SE.
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