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On February 14th the FAA announced that a category 1 safety rating would be given to Vietnam, enabling direct flights between the two nations. Vietnam currently exports $46.2 billion in goods to the United States and their aviation market how shown 16% growth each year from 2010-2017. The announcement comes after a 2018 FAA team conducted a safety assessment in Vietnam and agreed they fit the criteria needed for the CAT 1 safety rating.

The Category 1 safety rating comes as the International Convention on Civil Aviation assesses each nation’s aircraft and documentation to determine if the carriers operate to international standard levels. The rating means the air carriers from the assessed state may initiate or continue service to the United States in a normal manner and take part in code-share arrangements with U.S. carriers.

Just after the announcement that Vietnam would receive this rating, Thailand failed an FAA audit. This makes receiving the category 1 safety rating impossible at this time. Thailand has been downgraded to a CAT 2 rating since an audit of their safety in 2015 showed 26 findings on safety and aircraft problems. Other CAT 2 rated nations include Ghana, Curacao and Bangladesh.

This news is welcomed by Commodity Forwarders Inc. as our partnerships and networks grow in Vietnam. Regular readers of our blog may remember last year when CFI hosted a delegation from Vietnam through our Seattle facility as part of the State Dept. sponsored US tour. The delegation was made up of some of the largest grocery store and distributors in Vietnam, all of whom had questions about our cool chain abilities, which at that time, needed transshipment. We’re all very excited to see what innovative solutions we can implement under direct flight circumstances as Vietnam buys more fresh and frozen foods from the United States.

Some airlines, like Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways are planning to start non-stop flights connecting the countries. Giving Vietnam and the US options for direct service will reduce the congestion experienced at hubs that are currently working to manage transshipments between the two nations. Cities in the Middle East, Europe and Asia currently field cargo and passengers from a number of Asian cities where direct flights are too expensive. Plans in Vietnam include construction of the Long Thanh international airport, announced the same day, to help alleviate congestion at Ho Chi Minh City (SGN).

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