After finally obtaining U.S. regulatory approval, Vietnam Airlines will launch its first nonstop flight to the United States later this month…with a twist that virtually ensures this flight will be a huge money loser, but also perhaps the most comfortable way to travel between the USA and Asia in economy class.
Vietnam Airlines To Launch Nonstop Flights Between Ho Chi Minh City And San Francisco
Vietnamese flag carrier Vietnam Airlines will edge out Bamboo Airways to become the first carrier to operate nonstop service between Vietnam and the USA. In a press conference at the Sheraton Hanoi, CEO Le Hong Ha unveiled the news on Tuesday.
The new flight will begin on November 29th and operate 3x weekly using a Boeing 787-9 and operating between Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and San Francisco (SFO). But there’s a twist.
Due to payload restrictions on both this aircraft and the Airbus A350-900 (the other longhaul aircraft in Vietnam Airlines’ fleet), the carrier will operate at roughly only 2/3 capacity, meaning close to 100 of the seats onboard will be blocked.
The good news: plenty of room to spread out, even in economy class. I can’t think of a more comfortable way to travel between the USA and Vietnam or other parts of Asia if 1/3 of the seats are guaranteed to be empty.
The bad news: a prestige route that likely would have unprofitable even with a full load will now lose even more money.
That’s my analysis, of course, and I wish Vietnam Airlines all the best. In fact, I am excited for this flight. But what is Vietnam Airlines thinking? Most of Asia is still locking foreigners out. Even Vietnam is.
On the other hand, if yields can rise due to limited flights and dual citizenship makes travel in both directions possible, with a healthy cargo load maybe the losses will not be as bad as they appear.
As it stands, the 787-9 will operate with:
- 28 business class seats
- 35 premium economy class seats
- 211 economy class seats
As of press time, these flights were not loaded into the system or bookable, but will lock in at 13 hours, 50 minutes eastbound and 16 hours, 40 minutes westbound.
For more than 15 years Vietnam Airlines has explored service to the USA. It appears now it is finally happening. As the world remains in the grips of a global pandemic with much of the region off-limits to tourism, it admittedly seems like a strange time to start a new ultra-long haul route. Even so, Vietnam Airlines has proclaimed that nonstop service will finally launch between Vietnam and San Francisco, with Los Angeles and Houston potentially to follow.
Will you fly Vietnam Airlines between the USA and Asia?
images: Vietnam Airlines