Southeast Asia-US aviation market: Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines to enter, following FAA upgrade

In late 2017 the US FAA conducted safety audits of Thailand and Vietnam. The agency is expected to assign both countries a Category 1 rating within the next few months, which will enable airlines from Thailand and Vietnam to launch services to the US.

Thai Airways is preparing to resume services to the US in late 2018 or early 2019. Thai intends to operate nonstop from Bangkok to a not yet selected US city. Thai has not operated nonstop flights to the US since 2012, and dropped one-stop flights in 2015.

Vietnam Airlines also intends to launch flights on the Ho Chi Minh-Los Angeles route by 2019. It may start with a one-stop service via North Asia, but nonstop flights remain the long term aspiration.

For both airlines, the decision to enter the highly competitive US-Southeast Asia market is political rather than commercial. Financial losses are expected for at least a few years and profitability is unlikely, unless there is a significant improvement in market conditions.

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