Vietnam Airlines Eyes Launch of U.S. Flights

The carrier hopes to begin serving SFO from Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport at the end of November.

A Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. (Photo: Vietnam Airlines)

As entry restrictions ease on both sides of the Pacific, travelers can look forward to a growing range of air connections between Southeast Asia and the American West Coast in the coming weeks. Following a recent safety audit, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration has granted clearance for Vietnam Airlines to operate scheduled commercial flights between its home country and the United States. Vietnam’s flag carrier will commence a regular Ho Chi Minh City–San Francisco service once an operating permit has been issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, and officials at the airline say that could happen as soon as the end of the month. This development makes it the first Vietnamese carrier to be given permission to operate direct flights to the U.S., ending a two-decade-long wait. The SkyTeam member airline has not released details of its planned schedule for trans-Pacific flights nor which aircraft will be deployed for the new route.

Meanwhile, newer local carrier Bamboo Airways has announced that it will apply to launch direct flights between Vietnam and the United Kingdom, with six nonstop flights a week to London Heathrow from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to be operated aboard Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. Bamboo Airways chairman Trinh Van Quyet has said services would start from the end of this year, pending approval from regulatory authorities. Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, both carriers have been given permits to operate ad-hoc charter flights to repatriate Vietnamese nationals from both the U.S. and the U.K. Vietnam Airlines’ inaugural charter flight from Hanoi to San Francisco touched down at SFO in late September, while Bamboo Airways is running a dozen special services this month to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle from Hanoi and Da Nang.

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