The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has upgraded Vietnam’s safety rating, finally giving airlines in Vietnam the chance to serve the United States and codeshare with U.S. carriers.
Vietnam has been trying to break into the U.S. market for years, but has been unable to verify to U.S. authorities that it complies with international safety standards. But now, for the first time ever, the FAA upgraded Vietnam’s rating to “Category 1” which clears the way for service to the USA.
Both recently-launched Bamboo Airways and flag carrier Vietnam Airlines have expressed intentions to begin nonstop service to the United States.
But despite the good news, it may be awhile before we actually see air service begin. As I wrote about last February, Vietnam Airlines CEO Duong Tri Thanh is taking a cautious approach:
The plan is the end of 2019. But if it is not feasible and it is too much we have to wait to find a way to work with partners to improve the traffic mix. Like most of the airlines, like Philippines and Thai, we don’t have enough business travelers. We are just dependent on visiting friends and relatives. That is no way to make money.
> Read More: Vietnam Airlines Wants to Fly to the USA
That’s a realistic way of looking at it. With so much competition, Vietnam Airlines or Bamboo Airways faces a similar problem to Malaysia Airlines and Thai Airways…a route that is almost certain to lose money. Will Vietnam Airlines operate if for reasons of prestige or pride? That’s the real question, not whether the route can be profitable (at least on a short-term basis).
I quite enjoyed my A350 flight on Vietnam Airlines from Ho Chi Minh City to Frankfurt last year. It is a solid carrier that would appeal to many, especially in California. But with such intense competition, I suspect we’ll see a similar reaction to Garuda Indonesia, which is also toying with USA service but cannot bring itself to lose the money.
Would you be interested in nonstop service between the West Coast and Vietnam?
> Read More: Garuda’s Dangerous Gamble at LAX