Bamboo Airways and Vietnam Airlines have both announced renewed intentions to serve the United States “direct” from Vietnam. Let the race begin!
Vietnam Airlines and Bamboo Airways Race For Direct USA Service
Bamboo Airways, a 2019 start-up, has ordered 20 Boeing 787-9s and has long hinted at service to the USA. Originally, the plan was to fly to the U.S. by 2023. But while the pandemic would seemingly have pushed those plans back, it appears to have accelerated them.
Trinh Van Quyet, Chairman of Bamboo Airways, notes that his carrier wants to fly to the United States direct by the last quarter of this year and and believes that effective vaccination efforts will create a travel boom large enough to justify this new service.
Meanwhile, flag carrier Vietnam Airlines is also looking to start flights to the USA, with the board approving plans last year to utilize a Dreamliner. During the pandemic, Vietnam Airlines has operated a dozen repatriation flights between Vietnam and the USA, but evacuation flights are quite different than regularly-scheduled commercial service.
Both carriers talk of “direct” flights versus nonstop flights, an important distinction. While either carrier could theoretically operate its Dreamliner between Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City and the U.S. West Coast, discussion thus far have centered on a “direct” flight with a stop somewhere else in Asia, like Japan.
This would still save passengers some time if the ground stop was quick and did not require leaving the aircraft. At the same time, it would severally diminish the attractiveness of any onward connections from Vietnam.
This problem is hardly unique to Vietnam. Garuda Indonesia, Malaysia Airlines, and Thai Airways have all dealt with the same issue (and lost money on USA routes).
I quite enjoyed my A350 flight on Vietnam Airlines from Ho Chi Minh City to Frankfurt in 2018. It is a solid carrier that would appeal to many, especially in California. I’d love to try Bamboo Airways as well. But with such intense competition, I suspect we’ll see a similar reaction to Garuda Indonesia, which is also toying with USA service but cannot bring itself to lose the money.
Would you be interested in nonstop service between the West Coast and Vietnam?