Scheduled direct flights to the US have always been challenging for airlines, especially those that have operated this route for only one year like Vietnam Airlines.
Exactly one year ago, on November 28, 2021, Vietnam Airlines became the first and only airline in Vietnam to operate scheduled direct flights to the US when it launched a new flight route between Ho Chi Minh City and San Francisco. Due to the stringent technical requirements and complicated legal procedures required to operate this flight route, it was a huge milestone for Vietnam Airlines, as well as for Vietnam’s entire aviation industry.
At that time, many experts predicted it would take Vietnam Airlines a long time to achieve a break-even point because of high operating costs and fierce competition from airlines providing connecting flights at lower cost. A few US carriers had previously operated direct flights to Ho Chi Minh City but eventually dropped this route as they could not afford any losses.
For Vietnam Airlines, operating direct flights to the US was not simply a business matter: it was a national endeavor and a pioneering move to help promote investment, trade, and travel between the two countries when the international market was still paralyzed by the Covid-19 pandemic. This route facilitates travel for the world’s largest community of overseas Vietnamese, allowing for deeper ties with their home country. This new flight route has elevated Vietnam Airlines’ status, earning us recognition for our remarkable service quality and testifying to our capacity to ensure operational safety as we are meeting some of the strictest operational standards in the world.
Happily, after one year of operating this direct flight to the US, business performance has exceeded expectations. Statistics show positive revenue contributions within the first ten months of 2022, with total passenger transport reaching around 58,000 people and an average seat occupancy rate of 72%.
While these results surprised many people, they aligned with Vietnam Airlines’ predictions since we had spent 20 years thoroughly preparing for the launch of this route by investing in intensive training, infrastructure development, introducing next-generation wide-body aircraft, market research, and joint ventures with other partner airlines, among other complicated business activities.
Home to over 2.2 million overseas Vietnamese who account for more than 50% of the global community of overseas Vietnamese people, the United States is a market with considerable potential for Vietnam Airlines, which is currently the only airline to operate direct flights between the two countries.
With 207-minute Extended Diversion Time Operations (EDTO) certification granted for Boeing 787s and 240-minute EDTO certification for Airbus A350s, Vietnam Airlines has even greater flexibility in selecting and establishing flight routes. Thanks to these achievements, Vietnam Airlines can shorten flight time, reduce fuel consumption, and increase carrying capacity by up to 32 seats/each-way on flights to the US. With this new flight route, we can also approach high-value customers and those passengers who fly from the US to connect with Vietnam Airlines’ domestic and international network. EDTO certification is a highly stringent standard that only top global airlines can achieve.
Passenger traffic on our Ho Chi Minh City – San Francisco route is expected to exponentially increase during the coming Christmas, New Year, and Lunar New Year holidays between December 2022 and January 2023 and this trend will continue afterwards. This is especially crucial given that many international routes have yet to be restored, allowing Vietnam Airlines to optimize its wide-body fleet, boost revenues, and lay the groundwork for future expansion.
Ho Chi Minh City – San Francisco flight schedule
Route Flight days Peak period
(15/12/2022 – 20/1/2023)
Ho Chi Minh City –
San Francisco Thursday, Saturday, Sunday Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday
San Francisco –
Ho Chi Minh City Thursday, Saturday, Sunday Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday