Bamboo Airways, a Vietnamese leisure airline, made its maiden flight with its 787 aircraft to San Francisco International Airport on September 24. A welcome ceremony was held to mark the first-ever nonstop flight of Bamboo Airways to the US. The airline’s flight number QH9 149 headed off with a crew of four pilots and 14 attendants from Noibai International Airport, Hanai, to SFO Airport. Within the framework of the inaugural 787 flight to the US, Bamboo Airways signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SFO airport to promote nonstop commercial flights on the Vietnam-US route. The signing of an agreement between the airline and SFO airport will forge regular Tan Son Nhat- SFO flights as it bridges the gap between the two countries in terms of air transportation.
The CEO of Bamboo Airways, Dang Tat Thang, stated in the signing ceremony that the active cooperation between BAV and SFO was a part of Bamboo Airways’ strategy to build its presence in North America. Bamboo Airways has achieved the milestone by becoming the pioneer Vietnamese airline to commence passenger flight to the US as it traveled 7300 miles for about 14 hours to land on the primary US gateway. The decision of partnership between both sides is a great step in the aviation sector of both countries as it intends to bring substantial benefits through the development of bilateral and multilateral trade, tourism, and economics.
Ivan C. Satero, the SFO Airport Director, also commented that the signing had reinforced SFO airport to the primary US gateway that provides a world-class airport experience to the passengers.
The context for Vietnam-US air service
Bamboo Airways had been setting its sights to launch long-haul operations in San Francisco in April. Before the airline had started flying, the US and Vietnam had signed a bilateral air service agreement (BASA). The agreement to commence the operations between the two countries had come into effect since the Vietnam War ended.
The safety-related issues that had been put on Vietnamese airlines were relaxed by Federal Aviation Administration in 2019, allowing Bamboo Airways to pursue Foreign Air Carrier Permit from the US Department of Transportation. The carrier got the approval in late 2020.
Previously, United Airlines used to serve Vietnam and US routes before it canceled the operations due to low profitability.
Flight operations in the US
Bamboo Airways will cater to the passenger traffic between Ho Chi Minh and San Francisco airport four times a week with B787-9 aircraft at the initial phase. The service can soar up to daily frequencies depending on the market demand.
The airline will launch a dozen roundtrips between Vietnam and the US until November, subject to the US government. More flights connecting Vietnam’s Hanoi’ Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) and Da Nang International Airport (DAD) to the US cities of Los Angeles and Seattle can commence in the future.
US-Vietnam air service can generate around 800,000 travelers per year, as aviation experts predict. Nonstop regular flights in this market will reduce the flying time by 3-4 hours compared to connecting flights to West and by 6-7 hours compared to East.