The Prime Minister has endorsed an air transport agreement that officials of Vietnam and the United States renewed in May this year with an aim to further open the passenger and cargo transport markets for carriers of the countries to capitalize on emerging opportunities.
In Decision 1687/QD-TTg dated September 15, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told the Ministry of Transport to oversee implementing the agreement signed by Minister Ho Nghia Dung and U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Michael W. Michalak in Hanoi.
Lai Xuan Thanh, deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV), told the Daily last week that the renewed U.S.-Vietnam Air Transport Agreement would be effective until December 31, 2012 and subject to future renewals.
According to CAAV, the agreement is mainly based on an Open Skies accord for all-cargo services that Vietnam and the U.S. initialed around two years ago to liberalize their bilateral civil aviation relations. So, liberalization of cargo services is the most significant change scope of the new pact.
U.S. cargo carrier FedEx is cashing in on the increasing cargo services between the U.S. and Vietnam. Vietnam’s Trai Thien Air Cargo is finalizing procedures to take off, but targets Vietnam and other Asian markets in the initial time.
CAAV said passenger services terms of the new pact almost remained unchanged because Vietnam still held its right to consider awarding the fifth freedom for American airlines to disembark passengers traveling from Vietnam or board their flights at some stopovers in the northeast of Asia.
American carrier Delta Air Lines had to suspend its Tokyo-HCMC service in late March this year, nine months after running this air route, as a result of network restructuring and lacking the fifth right.
Delta Air Lines now joins a code-share service with Vietnam Airlines because both are members of the world’s airline alliance SkyTeam.
United Airlines is now the sole American operator of direct flights between Vietnam and the U.S. This carrier has flown to Tan Son Nhat International Airport via Hong Kong International Airport since 2004.
United Airlines sells discount airtickets from US$125 in September for a two-way trip between HCMC and Hong Kong. The carrier will open a new office in the Sunwah building on Nguyen Hue Boulevard in downtown HCMC later this month.
Vietnam Airlines is expected to launch its long-awaited direct passenger services to the U.S. in the second half of next year as the airline’s chief executive officer Pham Ngoc Minh told reporters at the 19th World Economic Forum on East Asia 2010 in HCMC in mid-2010.
Minh said the flagship carrier would commence the commercial passenger flights to the U.S. when the aviation authorities of the two countries had reached agreement on technical barrier and air control standards, hopefully in 2011.