HÀ NỘI — Vietnam Airlines, the country's national flag carrier, looks to dominate the Việt Nam-US route as preparations have been completed for its first direct flight to the US, which is scheduled to take off on Sunday, said Lê Hồng Hà, director-general of Vietnam Airlines.
The Việt Nam-US route was among one of the most in-demand pre-pandemic. There were 24,000 Vietnamese university students and a 2.2 million strong Vietnamese diaspora in the US in 2020. Two-way trade has been on the rise in recent years reaching US$90 billion in 2020 and projected to hit over $100 billion this year, making the South East Asian economy one of the US’ top trading partners.
As a result, the airline is confident demand will quickly recover once the pandemic is put under control and mobility restrictions relaxed, Hà said.
Competition, however, is expected to be fierce as the airline must compete against lower fares of one-stop flights offered by South Korean and Japanese airlines. VietJet, another Vietnamese airline, is soon to join the competition with their direct flights to the US.
Hà said Vietnam Airlines would have to rely on superior quality services, Skytrax-certified 4-star and soon to upgraded to 5-star, to win over passengers. He said the soon-to-be-operational route had been a result of nearly two decades of preparational work. The airline had been conducting numerous market studies and building an extensive sales network over the years to find customers.
One-way tickets for the route are priced around $800 with taxes and fees included, according to Hà. In the beginning, tickets for US-Việt Nam flights will be sold by ticket agents only due to pandemic restrictions. In the meantime, the airline will finish preparations to allow passengers to purchase tickets on its website and mobile apps in the future.
In an earlier projection, the airline said it expected to incur a loss in the amount of $30-50 million during the first phase of its operation with a projected scenario of seven flights per week and heavy competition.
The loss has been readjusted lower as the airline will be operating only two flights per week. While the airline will likely report a loss in the first five years, the situation should be manageable.
The first direct flight to the US by Vietnam Airlines using a wide-body Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner will take off on the evening of November 28 from HCM City to San Francisco and arrive in 13 hours and 50 minutes. The return flight will take off on November 29 from San Francisco and arrive in Việt Nam on December 1, 16 hours and 40 minutes later. — VNS