Two Vietnamese carriers are eyeing new aircraft deliveries that would enable them to launch future routes to the US.
Startup airline Bamboo Airways recently firmed up an order for 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, and the country’s flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines, is reportedly mulling a purchase for either Boeing’s upcoming 777X aircraft or Airbus’s A350-1000.
The push for US routes follows a decision by the US Federal Aviation Administration to grant Category 1 (CAT) status to Vietnam earlier this month, meaning the country complies with international aviation regulations and opening the door for carriers from the country to operate flights to the US.
The confirmed order for Bamboo Airways, which styles itself as a “hybrid airline” – somewhere in between a low-cost and a full service carrier – adds to the airline’s previous order for 20 Dreamliners that it placed back in June last year, bringing its order total to 30 B787s. The carrier expects to take delivery of its first Dreamliner in the third quarter of 2020.
Trinh Van Quyet, chairman of Bamboo Airways’ parent company, the FLC Group, has previously stated that the airline’s long-term goal is to “connect Vietnam to key markets within Asia, Europe and North America”. The carrier is aiming to launch non-stop flights to the US late this year or in early 2020.
Speaking about the new deal, Trinh said: “Direct flights between Vietnam and the US will not only push tourism activities, which are aimed to draw nearly one million American tourists by 2020, but also further facilitate bilateral trade and investment”.
Vietnam Airlines, meanwhile, is considering a purchase for two widebody aircraft, either the B777X or A350-1000, that it would use to fly to the US, the airline’s CEO Duong Tri Thanh said in an interview with Bloomberg.
The airline hopes to launch flights between Ho Chi Minh City and Los Angeles or San Francisco in 2020, initially with potential stopovers in Japan, Taiwan or South Korea. Non-stop services would be targeted for 2022.
The potential order for widebody aircraft comes as Vietnam Airlines considers an order for between 50 and 100 Boeing 737 Max aircraft this year, which would be delivered between 2020 and 2030.
Bamboo Airways’ Dreamliners are particularly interesting as seat maps for the aircraft previously published by the airline show it as having four first class suites – a curious feature for a carrier that positions itself as a hybrid airline. The aircraft would also have a business class cabin with 24 reverse herringbone seats laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Vietnam Airlines already operates the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Business Traveller has previously reviewed the carrier’s premium economy class offering on the aircraft.
Bamboo Airways officially launched operations last month with its inaugural flight going between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. Along with its Dreamliners, the airline also has 24 Airbus A321neo aircraft on order.