China’s illegal placement of a drilling rig in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone in the East Sea is an “extremely serious action and will definitely impact the aviation market between Vietnam and China,” a senior airline official has warned.

The aviation market “may face a decline caused by the serious incident in the East Sea,” Lai Xuan Thanh, Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, told the Vietnam News Agency on May 12.

According to the official, airspace over the East Sea is one of the most bustling international air routes in the world. He said that the sudden increase in non-regular flights in the area could hamper the operation of normal flights.

The Vietnamese authority has instructed the Vietnam Air Traffic Management Corporation to pay special attention to ensuring safety at the highest level to air routes crossing the flashpoint.

According to Vietnam Airlines, China is among its key markets, with 80 flights per week between the two nations.-VNA