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Vietnam, UAE initial aviation deal
By Binh Nguyen - The Saigon Times Daily
Tuesday,  Apr 26, 2011,20:13 (GMT+7)

Vietnam, UAE initial aviation deal

Rach Gia Airport re-opened to domestic flights

By Binh Nguyen - The Saigon Times Daily

HCMC - Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have clinched a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on air services and initialed an air services agreement as well, paving the way for airlines to fly between the two countries.

The agreement was confirmed on Monday by Vo Huy Cuong, director of the Air Transport Department at the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam. Several days ago he exchanged relevant documents in Dubai with Laila Ali Bin Hareb, executive director of Strategy and International Affairs of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

GCAA said in a statement obtained by the Daily that the two delegations agreed that designated airlines of both parties would have the right to operate scheduled services. The UAE chose Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Air Arabia, RAK Airways and Fly Dubai while Vietnam Airlines was Vietnam’s designated carrier under the agreement.

The designated airlines are given full flexibility on their routes, capacity, number of frequencies and types of aircraft and services for passengers and cargo. They can execute fifth freedom traffic rights and operate unrestricted non-scheduled operations between the two nations.

Cuong of CAAV told the Daily that the fifth freedom traffic rights would allow airlines to operate long-haul flights with a stopover outside the two countries as it was where they could disembark their passengers and take new guests on board their planes before they conducted non-stop services.

Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines are now capitalizing on the fifth freedom traffic rights for their flights to and from Vietnam via Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Thailand’s capital Bangkok.

Hareb of GCAA described the MoU between UAE and Vietnam as “the most open air services MoU signed by the Vietnamese Government” following a recent high-ranking official visit by the UAE government to Vietnam. She said in the statement that the visit was to strengthen cooperation and communication with Vietnam to achieve common interests, and to open up horizons of joint trade and investment, especially in infrastructure, energy, tourism and aviation.

Hareb added the UAE was considered one of the major foreign investors in Vietnam with combined investment capital pledged for its on-going projects amounting to US$3 billion, exemplifying the need to facilitate air links to spur bilateral trade.

Cuong of CAAV said the agreement would encourage airlines of the two countries to work out plans to commence their flights and that Vietnam would provide airlines of the UAE with favorable conditions to help make their services a reality.

Cuong said Emirates Airline would weigh the possibility of flying back to Vietnam while Etihad expressed its intention to conduct a market survey before it started work on any plan to fly between the two countries, but both did not go into detail.

Representatives of Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline participated in negotiations before the deals were inked, according to GCAA. Cuong said Vietnam Airlines had not thrashed out any detailed plan to fly to the Middle East.

Cuong said the documents would be submitted to the governments of Vietnam and the UAE for consideration and approval before the two sides signed an official aviation agreement.

* Southern Airports Corporation has re-opened Rach Gia Airport to domestic flights nearly 20 days after the airport in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang was closed to have its only runway repaired and upgraded.

The Ministry of Transport issued Decision 772/QĐ-BGTVT to put into operation the domestic airport over the weekend as its 1,500-meter-long, 30 meter-wide runway had been upgraded in the closure period from April 4 to April 23.

Vietnam Airlines is the only operator of daily service to Rach Gia Airport, which is part of the national flag carrier’s air route that also covers HCMC and Phu Quoc. Jetstar Pacific and Air Mekong have not flown to this airport under management of Southern Airports Corp.

Located seven kilometers from the center of Rach Gia City, the airport can now accommodate ATR 72 turboprop aircraft and has a parking area for five planes.

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