Vietnam Airlines has announced the creation of a new scheduled airline connecting Ho Chi Minh City to San Francisco.
Since November 28, 2021, the Vietnamese national airline has offered two flights a week between its base in Ho Chi Minh City-Tan Son Nhat and San Francisco airport, operated by Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner that can accommodate 28 passengers in Business class. , 35 in Premium and 211 in Economy. Departures are scheduled for Wednesday and Saturday (currently December 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 only) departing at 8:40 p.m. arriving the same day at 7:30 p.m., with return flights leaving the West Coast Thursday and Sunday at 11:00 p.m. to land two days later at 6:40 a.m. (passing the date change line obliges, average flight time around 1 p.m.).
The switch to a daily frequency is planned “as soon as demand justifies it” and the Covid-19 pandemic allows it; some rotations are scheduled in Airbus A350-900 (29+45+231). Vietnam Airlines is currently without competition on this axis, its rival Bamboo Airways having already obtained flight slots in the Californian airport.
The last direct scheduled flight between the two countries dates back to 1991, when United Airlines abandoned its San Francisco – Ho Chi Minh City seven years after launching it; Continental Airlines also served Tan Son Nhat airport, but via Tokyo and then Hong Kong.
The SkyTeam alliance company had received the green light from the TSA in early November to serve the USA, after having operated several repatriation flights to the country during the Covid-19 pandemic. At the beginning of 2019, the FAA had classified Vietnam in Category 1 on compliance with international safety standards, allowing the country’s airlines to open new direct routes to the USA, including code-sharing with American carriers (Delta Air Lines for example, alliance partner of Vietnam Airlines).
Vietnam Airlines also plans to offer flights to Los Angeles, departing from Hanoi-Noi Bai or the former Saigon. In a quarter of a century, the bilateral trade turnover between Vietnam and the United States has increased 200 times, from 451 million US dollars in 1995 (after the lifting of the economic embargo a year earlier) to $90.8 billion in 2020.