Safety Is Main Point Of Discussion
Top officials from the
FAA arrived in Hanoi Sunday to discuss the recently approved Air
Services Agreement, and its impact on bilateral relations.
However, the United States wants a review of Vietnam's airport
safety standards before it implements the landmark bilateral trade
pact that would start direct flights between the two former
FAA Deputy Administrator Robert Sturgell and the Assistant
Administrator for International Aviation Douglas E. Lavin are
heading the delegation.
Mr. Sturgell will meet with officials at the Civil Aviation
Administration of Vietnam (CAAV), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
as well as representatives from the US and Vietnamese airline
industries. Officials will discuss the recently-approved Air
Services Agreement and its impact on bilateral relations.
Also, the two sides will discuss safety issues and the potential
for direct flights and code-sharing opportunities. Several U.S.
carriers had said in October they thought the first direct flights
from America might start in March. But with the safety review far
from complete, that timetable appeared unlikely.
"The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) will have
to demonstrate its compliance with the international standards,"
Federal Aviation Administration Deputy Administrator Robert
Sturgell told a news briefing on Monday.
He said the rules to ensure the safety of global travel are set
by the International Civil Aviation Organization based in Montreal,
of which America and Vietnam are members. Asked if Vietnam had
lapses in any of the rules, Sturgell said he was "not aware" of any
The delegation is to visit other countries in the region,
including Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangalore after leaving
Vietnam late today.
The Air Services Agreement is one of important agreements signed
in December after the Vietnam – US Bilateral Trade Agreement.
This agreement is legal foundation for US and Vietnam to open
direct flights as well as to boost opportunity of developing
Two-way passenger traffic between America and Vietnam is between
270,000 and 280,000 people a year and has been growing at between
five and seven percent annually. Some 214,253 people from America
visited Vietnam in 2003, the second largest group after China.
A U.S. review team is expected to visit Vietnam in the next few
months to look at its airports, said Sturgell, who was in the
country to discuss the aviation agreement.
In the first two year taking in effect, the agreement allows
each nation have 2 national airlines to open direct flights in the
first year and then add an another airline in the following
US side will start the direct flights to Vietnam in 2004 while
it is expected that Vietnam airlines including Vietnam airline,
Pacific Airline will do in 2005.
So far, only American
Airlines has filed an application to begin code-share flights with
Vietnam Airlines, but Sturgell said that Continental Airlines "has
also expressed an interest" in tapping the market. American
Airlines this week opens its first office in Vietnam and will
expand code-share flights to five U.S. cities.
In the first two years, two passenger carriers on each side can
operate direct flights, with a third added in the third year. Cargo
operators can operate unlimited direct flights. UPS and FedEx Corp.
have expressed interested in direct cargo service between the
This agreement will boost trade, investment and tourism for both
sides in the future beside Vietnam – US Bilateral Agreement
coming into effect in 2001.