Bamboo Airways is preparing to launch its first flights to the United States. Expected to start on September 23rd, the startup carrier will be the first Vietnamese airline to launch flights to the United States. While the airline will only run a handful of flights to start, it is targeting routes to the West Coast of the United States, which is a huge milestone for the airline but will be a completely different ball game than what the airline is currently flying.
Bamboo Airways set for US flights
According to a report in VnExpress, Bamboo Airways is cleared to run direct flights to the United States starting on September 23rd. The airline has received approval from the US government to fly 12 roundtrips between Vietnam and the US until November.
The current plan is to run flights from Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) and Da Nang International Airport (DAD) in Vietnam to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).
Bamboo Airways will use a Boeing 787-9 on flights to the United States. The airline’s filing with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) for approval to run US flights indicated plans to use three-class aircraft on the routes.
The first nonstop flights to the US from Vietnam
Launching flights between the United States and Vietnam is an entirely different ballgame. For one, there are no nonstop flights between the US and Vietnam. While nonstop flights have been under consideration for years, there are many reasons why the market has not seen any come to fruition.
One of the biggest challenges has been aircraft. While there have been jets offered that can make the mammoth journey between the US and Vietnam, only the latest generation of aircraft can conduct flights viably. This includes the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 families.
Even then, this is a market that will be tough, nonetheless. While there is a large Vietnamese diaspora in the United States, most of those travelers are booking seats at the back of the plane. This means they are more lower-yield passengers. While there is a volume of business travel to Vietnam, this is not a high-yield business market like Singapore or Hong Kong.
This could put a lot of pressure on making the route work from a financial standpoint. However, other large leisure markets have also performed well for airlines in the past, but it can be a tough fight. This is especially true given that Vietnam Airlines plans to jump into the fray.
Not yet close to nonstop regularly scheduled commercial flights
While Bamboo Airways plans its flights to the US from later this month, the airline still has room to go before it gets up and running to regularly scheduled commercial flights. The airline will first need to ensure it can get the slots, gates, and requisite permission to run more US operations.
In its filing with the DOT, the airline asked for permission to fly from Vietnam via intermediate points in Taipei, Osaka, and Nagoya to Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and Dallas/Fort Worth. It also asked for permission to run flights beyond to Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto in Canada.
Bamboo Airways will need to decide its route plans. While there is some merit to running one-stop flights, it would not come at a competitive advantage. Rather, it could hamper the airline even further, especially if it does not get fifth-freedom permission to operate from Taiwan or Japan to the United States.
Out of the airline’s control are travel restrictions. Vietnam has all but shut down international travel, and there are no clear signs when the country will be welcoming tourists with limited restrictions. This may strongly influence when Bamboo Airways launches official US commercial flights.
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