Bamboo Airways Eyes Direct US Flights From 2021

Hanoi based Bamboo Airways continues to eye direct flights to the United States. The airline only started flying in a year ago and has floated speculation about launching direct flights to the United States several times. Following a meeting between Bamboo Airways and Boeing last week, the possibility has been raised again – this time using a Boeing 777X.

Bamboo Airways is again talking about flying to the United States in 2020. Photo: Bamboo Airways via Facebook.

There was a meeting between Bamboo and Boeing late last week

The meeting between Bamboo Airways and Boeing was reported on in VN Express over the weekend. At the meeting was Bamboo’s Director-General, Mr Dang Tat Thang; Mr Michael J. Fowler, Boeing’s Commercial Sales Director; and Ms Jill Kelly, Boeing’s Head of Marketing for the 777X.

That meeting was extensively reported on in Simple Flying yesterday.

The meeting seemed to be a roadshow spruiking the merits of the 777X, a delay-plagued aircraft that only made its first test flight last month.

This time, Bamboo Airways is spruiking the idea of flying a 777X to the United States. Photo: Bamboo Airways via Facebook.

But once it comes into service, tentatively scheduled for 2021, the 777X should prove to be a fine aircraft. It certainly caught the eye of Bamboo Airways. According to the report in VN Express, Bamboo Airways wants to launch direct flights to the United States in 2021. It would like to use the 777X to do so.

There are a few barriers to the 777X idea

However, that may be wishful thinking on Bamboo Airways’ part. Now the first test flight is out of the way, let’s be positive and assume the first 777Xs are delivered in 2021 – as currently scheduled.

There are at least nine customers in the queue ahead of Bamboo Airways with a total of 309 Boeing 777Xs on order. You’d assume any new orders, from Bamboo Airways or elsewhere, would go to the back of the queue.

On the plus side (for Bamboo Airways at least), three of those nine customers include Emirates, Qatar and Etihad. Those three airlines ordered up big but are now busy trimming aircraft orders as the realities of the flying in the 2020s begin to kick in. So, there might be a few spare aircraft there.

There are a few barriers to operating a 777-X between Hanoi and the United States as early as 2020. Photo: Dan Nevill via Wikimedia Commons.

There are also 10 Boeing 777Xs going to unidentified customers. These could be leasing agents. That may be an avenue for Bamboo Airways to queue jump there.

Even so, Bamboo’s announcement over the weekend that they wanted to launch direct flights to the United States in 2021 using 777X seems unrealistic.

Last year, Bamboo Airways was talking about an A380

It is only early days in Bamboo Airway’s timeline, but perhaps there is a pattern emerging here. In June 2019, the airline said it planned to start direct flights to the United States early in 2020 using a leased Airbus A380.

At the time, Simple Flying’s Tom Boon suggested there might be some difficulties with that idea. It seems he was right. It is now early 2020 and there are no A380’s sporting Bamboo livery or gracing the tarmac at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport.

There is a large Vietnamese diaspora in the United States and an absence of direct flights between the two countries. Photo: Bamboo Airways via Facebook.

Late in 2019, Bamboo Airways took delivery of its first Boeing 787-9s. It now has three in service and a further 27 on order. When the first 787-9 touched down in Vietnam, there was a lot of speculation about where the airline would deploy them too. The United States came into the mix. In any case, the 787-9s are now being bedded down on domestic routes. The first long-haul route will commence at the end of March, jetting between Hanoi and Prague.

The idea is good but the speculation isn’t useful

Bamboo Airways has been growing fast in the last 12 months. That strategy has both pros and cons. Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority has been given the safety thumbs up by the United States with a category one rating. It is something people in western countries might not even think about but it can be a significant hurdle for start-up airlines from developing countries.

With a steady flow of 787-9s coming to the airline, there is no reason to think Bamboo Airways can’t start direct flights to the United States. There’s a large Vietnamese diaspora in the United States but no direct flights. The concept is solid.

What’s not so solid is the thought bubble over the weekend out of Hanoi regarding operating a 777X on the route in 2021. That’s highly unlikely. Announcements like that (and the A380 idea) undercuts the airline’s reputation. And as we all know, reputation is everything in aviation.

My money is on a Boeing 787-9 service to the United States.