HANOI, 10 May 2021: Bamboo Airways gained flight slot times for proposed direct routes to San Francisco and Los Angeles due to launch 1 September from Ho Chi Minh City.
It will cut the flight time to around 16 hours to the US west coast cities using the Dreamliner 787-9 aircraft. Currently, the airline offers some charter flights to repatriate Vietnamese nationals from the US. The flights started in April and are organised by the Ministry of Transport. They make transit stops in Hong Kong, Taiwan or South Korea.
The airline confirmed in statements to Vietnam News Agency that it is now “finalising preparations to operate regular direct flights from Ho Chi Minh City to San Francisco and Los Angeles in the US, starting 1 September 2021.
It received a permit from the US Department of Transportation to carry passengers and cargo to the country last year but still needed to negotiate time slots at US airports.
Currently, all flights to Vietnam are restricted to passengers who are officially invited by the government. They are mostly experts, foreign investors as well as Vietnamese citizens wishing to return home. More charter flights to the US are being organised for July.
Based on details from the airline, it has now gained time slots at San Francisco International Airport, for a daily flight landing at 1000 and departing at 1300. At Los Angeles International Airport, the time slot for landing is 0900 and 1230 for take-off.
There are currently no nonstop routes between the two countries. Passengers must transit in Hong Kong, Korea or Taiwan with an overall flight time of 20 hours end-to-end.
There are also plans to start flights to South Korea, Taiwan, the UK, Germany, Tokyo (Japan), Melbourne and Sydney (Australia), Singapore, Thailand, and China without any firm timeframe mentioned. Covid-19 restrictions in the destinations mentioned continue to restrict international flights to and from Vietnam other than for repatriation. In addition, Vietnam has not reinstated tourist visas, online e-visas or visas-on-arrival, and without a change in border entry rules and quarantine measures, international airline travel demand has stalled across the region.
(Source: Bamboo Airways)