The signing took place some days ago in Hanoi by Vietnamese Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang and US Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear, according to Tien Phong.

The agreement would be temporarily effective since April 1, 2012, and would be officially effective when diplomatic procedures are completed.

Ngo Thai Phuong, Legal Department Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, said the agreement has the retroactive effects since April 1, 2012, because the first amended agreement signed in 2010 took valid until the end of March 2012 only. Therefore, the second amended agreement needs to take effect as of April, 2012.

As such, the Vietnam-US Air Transport Agreement has been effective for 10 years already. However, to date, Vietnam still cannot define the exact day it provides first direct flights between Vietnam and the US.

Dau tu has reported that contrary to many people’s expectations, the amended document does not comprise big changes if compared with the previous version.

The latest version only has some small changes, setting no limitation to the effective duration of the 2003 Agreement.

Like 10 years ago, when the two parties signed the agreement for the first time, the officials of the aviation authorities of the two countries believed that the agreement would help generate more opportunities to strengthen the cooperation between the two countries.

At that time, the national flag air carrier Vietnam Airlines stated that it would open the direct air route Vietnam-US soon.

However, the air carrier’s plan to open new direct air route still has not been implemented.

To date, only the US air carriers have taken full advantage of the bilateral agreement to provide the flights to Vietnam. United Airlines, a passenger carrier and Fedex, a cargo carrier are the two of them.

Vietnam Airlines has many times repeatedly its strong determination to open direct air routes to the US. However, the strong determination only cannot make the plan fulfilled.

Bui Minh Dang, Deputy Head of the Air Transport Division of the aviation authorities also said in principle, the opportunities to establish direct air routes to the US have been opened to every airline. However, it is not easy to reach out to the market.

The number of passengers flying between Vietnam and the US through transitional points is about 400,000-500,000 a year. They are mostly businessmen or those, who want to visit relatives in the US or Vietnam. Therefore, there have been no big changes in the number of passengers in the last many years.

Experts say on Giao thong Van tai newspaper that unlike the other countries to which Vietnam Airlines has opened direct air routes to, the US always sets up very strict requirements in terms of security and flight safety. The US authorities only grants licenses to foreign airlines only after considering the conditions of airlines and the supervision capability of the aviation authorities of the airlines’ home countries.

However, a senior executive of Vietnam Airlines has affirmed that technical barriers have never been the big problem for the air carrier. It has bigger worry about the economic benefits and the competitiveness.

Dau tu has quoted its sources as saying that Vietnam has got the permission to make technical landing in only one point of the air route to the US. This means that even if it can successfully negotiate with the partners to have more stays in Japan or South Korea, Vietnam Airlines can only land in to re-fuel, while it cannot receive more passengers before flying to the US.

VietNamNet Bridge - December 20, 2012