Vietnam Receives Category 1 FAA Rating

Vietnam Airlines has just received an official FAA category 1 rating.

This means that the flag carrier of Vietnam can now operate a direct route to the US west coast, a win for customers.

Vietnam Airlines first tried to get Category 1 approval in 2004. Photo: Airbus

What are the details?

Vietnam Airlines has always wanted to operate routes from Ho Chin Minh City to Los Angeles (which has a very large expat vietmanise population). What is interesting is that the airline does not intend to make money on the route, but rather that its part of the service that they need to offer for their country (and citizens).

“The philosophy of the company is to help the economy and try to be viable and profitable. But growing the economy is more of a mandate. You can see on most of the intercontinental routes we are not making money. But we are helping to get people in and out.” – Vietnam Airlines CEO

And to achieve this dream, last August they applied for FAA status to fly into US Airspace. This involved a several month long process of dissecting the airline by inspectors to ensure that it complies with the most stringent of safety standards. It may have taken additional time due to the US government shutdown.

The FAA has since released this statement.

A Category 1 rating means Vietnam’s civil aviation authority meets the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards for personnel licensing, operations, and airworthiness. With the Category 1 rating, Vietnamese air carriers that are able to secure the requisite FAA and DOT authority can establish service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers.

The FAA had not previously assessed Vietnam’s civil aviation authority for compliance with ICAO standards. The Category 1 status announced today is based on an August 2018 FAA assessment of the safety oversight provided by the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam.

What would be their first route?

Vietnam Receives Category 1 FAA Rating
The proposed route. Source: Google

Their first route might be Ho Chin Minh City to Los Angeles. Currently, there are no direct routes between the two cities, passengers most likely have to fly via China.

The route would be launched in late 2019 and flown on one of the airlines new 12 (or 14 when the orders are complete) Airbus A350-900. They also have a fleet of 11 Boeing 787-9s and 8 Boeing 787-10s on order, that could also complete the route.

Currently, Vietnam Airlines flies to 21 destinations within Vietnam domestically, and 43 internationally, many of which do not make a profit. This new route would be the first to fly to US Airspace.

What do you think, are you excited to fly long haul with Vietnam Airlines?