Bamboo Airways first Vietnamese carrier to secure US direct flight slots | travelling in Vietnam | Sourcing Vietnam

Bamboo Airways first Vietnamese carrier to secure US direct flight slots

Bamboo Airways has acquired slots to operate regular direct flights from HCMC to San Francisco and Los Angeles starting September 1.

At the San Francisco International Airport, the daily flights are expected to land at 10 a.m. (U.S. time) and depart at 1 p.m.; and the landing and takeoff times at the Los Angeles International Airport flights are 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., respectively, the carrier said in a press release Friday.

The flights would be operated using the long-haul Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.

Bamboo Airways is rushing to complete the final steps in the process of building its personnel apparatus, including pilot and flight crew training, to get ready for operating the direct flights to the U.S., it said.

There are currently no non-stop routes between the two countries, and passengers have to transit through Hong Kong, South Korea or Taiwan, taking 18-21 hours in all. A direct flight would shorten the travel time to 15-17 hours.

Bamboo Airways had received a permit from the U.S. Department of Transportation to carry passengers and cargo to that country last year.

Americans are among the top foreign visitors to Vietnam, with 687,226 arrivals in 2019, and an ethnic Vietnamese population of over 2.1 million in the U.S. is also expected to be a steady source of travel demand.

Vietnam's Ministry of Transport is also finalizing procedures to designate Bamboo Airways to operate charter flights between Vietnam and the U.S. following a proposal made by the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam at the end of April.

It will allow the private airline to carry passengers and goods from Vietnam to the U.S. and vice versa on charter flights upon approval by the prime minister and relevant agencies. Passengers on these flights could be experts, foreign investors and Vietnamese citizens in the U.S. wishing to return home. Bamboo Airways chairman Trinh Van Quyet said the airline expects to operate charter flights to the U.S. from July.

Bamboo Airways had earlier got a slot allocated at London's Heathrow Airport to fly six times a week from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City starting this month.

The carrier also plans to operate direct flights to South Korea, Taiwan and Japan from the second quarter of this year if approved by the government.

Vietnam closed national borders and canceled all international flights in March last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with only Vietnamese repatriates, foreign experts and highly-skilled workers allowed in since then with stringent conditions.

American aviation authorities had permitted national carrier Vietnam Airlines to operate dozens of direct repatriation flights last year.

Vietnam Airlines got the green light to operate direct flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to several American destinations in September 2019. No such a flight under the permit has been scheduled to date.

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