Bamboo Airways Sets Its Sights On Europe

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Bamboo Airways is once again planning its entry into the European market. The Vietnamese carrier has secured coveted slots at London Heathrow for flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The carrier planned to use their 787s on routes to Prague and Munich last year but could not start flights due to the pandemic.

Bamboo Airways Boeing 787-9
Bamboo Airways has long been waiting to deploy its new Boeing 787-9s on long-haul routes. Photo: Bamboo Airways

London next

Last week’s London Heathrow Summer 2021 slot allocation finalizations saw many airlines walk away lucky, with Bamboo Airways being one of them. The airline has secured six weekly slot pairs at the hub, allowing three weekly flights each from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

Flights from Heathrow to Ho Chi Minh (SGN) will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, while those to Hanoi (HAN) will operate on Monday, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. This will mean Bamboo Airways will become a busy operator out of London Heathrow, with flights on all days but Friday.

Bamboo Airways 787-9
The question remains how soon will Bamboo be able to start flights to London. Photo: Bamboo Airways

According to VnEconomy, flights will land in London at 15:30 and leave at 17:40 local times, with flights taking roughly 12 hours each way. However, there will be strong competition at Heathrow as well. Flights could start as soon as July if Vietnam allows a restart of international flights.

Vietnam Airlines already serves both routes being targeted by Bamboo, giving it a leg up early on. Moreover, historically, connecting airlines like Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, and others also offer strong connectivity to Vietnam. While Bamboo will benefit from the added direct capacity, it could take a while to reach full capacity.

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More routes

In addition to London, Bamboo Airways is also planning to kick off flights to Frankfurt this year. This will strengthen the airline’s route map in Europe and open up new connecting opportunities for passengers. Bamboo’s European ambitions are not unknown by any means but just came at a bad time.

The carrier originally planned to begin flying to Prague in March 2020 and Munich soon after that. However, the pandemic disrupted these long-awaited ambitions and forced Bamboo to focus on domestic and cargo activities alone. This meant the brand-new 787s could only fly cargo and some repatriation flights for their first long-haul missions.

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Bamboo Airways A321neo
Vietnam’s strict border closure means that Bamboo has not been able to start long-haul services yet. Photo: Tokimvuong via Wikimedia Commons

However, Bamboo Airways is hoping that 2021 proves to be a much stronger year for international flights. If all goes well, the airline hopes to tentatively launch flights to Europe in the third quarter of this year, assuming the government approves.

Shaping up to be a strong year

Bamboo Airways currently operates a fleet of 29 aircraft, including five ERJ190/195s, 21 A320 family jets, and three 787-9s. The carrier has seen a rapid expansion in the last two years, with plans to grow its fleet to 50 aircraft by the end of the year. This year, the airline might finally be able to realize its ambition to grow its route map as far as the US and Europe.

What do you think about Bamboo Airways’ plans? Let us know in the comments!

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