[ Routes] By Winston Shek
Bamboo Airways Flys Inaugural Flight to The United States
Bamboo Airways flew its first flight from Vietnam to San Francisco on September 23, 2021. This was a significant milestone in its international operations. In total, the Hanoi-based carrier will operate twelve demonstration/charter flights from Hanoi and Da Nang to Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle through November.
Bamboo Airways' first flight to the United States was QH9149. It left Vietnam at 8:15 P.M., and arrived in San Francisco at 7 P.M., according to FlightRadar24. The flight took 13 hours and 36 mins. The flight will return to Hanoi at 8.25 P.M. after departing the Bay Area at 2.55 P.M.
Bamboo Airways will fly its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in the demonstration flights. Two seating options are available for the long-haul aircraft. One has 294 seats and 26 business class seats. The other has 247 economy seats.
According to Vnexpress the Deputy General Director of Bamboo Airways, Nguyen Ngoc Trng, is enthusiastic about the new route and believes that it will be an opportunity to excel in the pandemic. He stated: Weve seen opportunities in developing flights in Southeast Asian and Northeast Asian areas like Japan, Taiwan and even towards Europe and Australia in the past two years. Now, on to the U.S.
He said, "We are ready to do commercial flights to the U.S. once the pandemic is over to meet our customers' demands in both countries."
Trinh Van Quyet, Bamboo Airways chairman, teased in April 2021 that permanent flights would be launched to the United States. He stated: "We will begin chartered flights to America in July, and aim to launch nonstop commercial flights between Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and San Francisco in September. We initially plan to fly three flights per week.
Bamboo Airways delayed the start of these flights as they are currently planning to launch permanent flights in 2022. This is subject to government approval for their foreign carrier aviation permit. According to the Vietnamese carrier, it will start with three flights per week, and then increase to five flights per week. Daily service may be offered at some point.
Bamboo Airways signed a $2 billion agreement with General Electric to support their GEnx engines and long-range operations to America. According to Reuters, the new signing agreement with General Electric will mark a significant milestone in the airline's transcontinental flight network. It will connect Vietnam with long-range and medium-range markets.
Bamboo Airways and Boeing officials met in New York earlier this week to discuss cooperation and delivery dates for the Boeing 787. This was part of a series of activities in the United States. Bamboo Airways has opened a San Francisco representative office this week as a sign of its commitment to U.S. service. The airline also plans to sign memorandums with San Francisco International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport to provide service to Vietnam.
Bamboo Airways completed a preliminary schedule earlier this year for flights to San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose. It received approval for its proposed flight times at the slot-facilitated airports. The preliminary schedule for San Francisco includes an arrival at 10 A.M., departure at 1 PM, which allows for a departure from Ho Chi Minh City at the morning and an evening arrival into Ho Chi Minh City at night. Its preliminary schedule for Los Angeles is departure at 12:30 P.M and arrival at 9:30 A.M., which allows for similar departure and arrival times to Ho Chi Minh City.
According to Bloomberg, Vietnam Airlines also plans international flights to the U.S. late October. Le Hong Ha, its CEO, stated that the airline would use a Boeing 787-9 or Airbus A350 900 aircraft to fly between Ho Chi Minh City and San Francisco with a stop at in-between. To counter low passenger demand, the flag carrier of Vietnam plans to rely on cargo demand.
Vietnam Airlines relaunched repatriation efforts to America during the summer by operating flights to Washington Dulles San Francisco, Dallas and San Francisco. Similar to Bamboo Airways, the airline used its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner as a flight, moving from the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner in 2020 and the Airbus A350-900.
RoutesOnline's Sabre data shows that 1.77 million passengers traveled between the United States and Vietnam in 2019. The highest numbers were the 300,300 passengers on route Ho Chi Minh- Los Angeles and 198,000 on route Ho Chi Minh- San Francisco.
Despite the high demand pre-pandemic between the countries, there are concerns about profitability due to the high cost of the flight and low yielding market. Vietnam Airlines stated in a 2019 filing that it expects to lose $54 million its first year on a hypothetical route from Ho Chi Minh City and Los Angeles. Doung Tri Thanh, the CEO of Vietnam Airlines, stated in 2018 that Vietnam Airlines could lose $30 million annually in its first five years of operations if it opens a direct route to America.
Bamboo Airways is looking to expand its U.S. operations and plans to resume international commercial operations in November. Bamboo Airways will resume three important international connections to Hanoi by November 5. These include flights to Seoul Taipei, Tokyo, and Taipei. The Vietnamese carrier also plans to expand its operations, adding more flights to Australia as well as new flights to the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States.