The Ministry of Transport (MoT) this month will decide whether a straight air route linking Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City over the Lao and Cambodian airspaces will be operated or not, Deputy Minister Nguyen Hong Truong has said.

At a press briefing on the ministry’s Q3 plan in Hanoi on October 7, Truong said flight simulator (SIM) tests conducted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) and VietJet Air showed that the proposed new route is 86km shorter than the current one, saving five minutes of flying time and 190kg of fuel.

The results were also verified by experts from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Thailand and Vietnam , he said.

Being aware of the potential of the route, dubbed “golden air route”, the ministry has set up a team for further research of the project, said Truong.

However, the new route flies over Laos and Cambodia , Vietnam has to pay fee for using their airspaces. Therefore, a working team comprising CAAV members and representatives from the MoT’s Department for External Relations was also established for negotiations with these two countries.

Once all parties agreed on a specific fee, it is possible to calculate detailed efficiency, he said, adding that a final report on the Hanoi-Ho Chi Minh City route will be announced this month.

In March 2009, the CAAV received a proposal for the Hanoi-HCM City straight air route from former pilot Mai Trong Tuan.

The proposed air route would mean flights between the capital and the southern economic hub traverse Lao and Cambodian airspace, rather than the ocean, no longer following Vietnam's "S" shaped coastline.-VNA