The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has granted Vietnam Airlines clearance to operate scheduled commercial flights from Vietnam to the US, the carrier announced Monday. While still awaiting approval from the FAA, the Hanoi-based national airline plans to begin flying regular services to the United States at the end of November.
Ho Chi Minh to San Francisco
After more than two decades of anticipation of direct services to the US, Vietnam Airlines says it will commence operations with flights from Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) to San Francisco (SFO). Meanwhile, no other routes have been announced. Border restrictions still in place for Vietnam might mean the initial schedule will be somewhat sparse.
Nor has the carrier announced which aircraft it intends to operate to SFO thus far. However, when Airbus and Vietnam Airlines announced that the airline had signed an MoU for an additional ten A350 XWBs in 2016, the manufacturer said the carrier intended to fly them on non-stop flights to the US.
The SkyTeam member’s long-haul fleet consists of 14 Airbus A350-900s, 11 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, and four 787-10s (with another four of the latter still on order). The A350s come in two different layouts. One has 29 lie-flat seats in business class, 45 recliner seats in premium economy, and 231 standard economy seats. The other has 29, 36, and 240, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Boeing 787-9s have 28 in business, 35 in premium economy, and 211 in standard economy. Or, in one configuration where Vietnam Airlines opted out of offering premium economy – 28 flatbeds and 283 standard seats. However, a large part of the carrier’s widebody fleet remains inactive.
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First to be cleared for regular service
Vietnam Airlines is the first Vietnamese carrier to be granted clearance to operate direct scheduled flights to the US. However, compatriot and competitor, leisure-focused Bamboo Airways, is also allowed to operate charter services. The airline completed its inaugural flight from Hanoi to San Francisco on September 23rd this year. In total, Bamboo will have operated twelve flights from Hanoi and Da Nang to SFO, Los Angeles, and Seattle throughout November.
Could Bamboo be next?
The long-haul fleet of the young Vietnamese airline consists solely of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. Bamboo’s seating also comes in two different configurations. One has 26 business class lie-flat seats, 21 premium economy seats, and 247 economy seats. The other features 30 lie-flat business seats, 36 premium economy seats, and 226 standard economy seats.
Bamboo Airways is also reportedly keen on direct scheduled services in the near future. The aspirations of both carriers were given a tremendous boost two years ago, when the FAA in February 2019 moved Vietnam up to category one of its safety assessment.
Have you had the chance to travel with Vietnam Airlines? Are you excited about upcoming non-stop flights between Vietnam and the US? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.