Bamboo beats Vietnam Airlines to fly Regularly to the U.S.

On the 24th of September, Bamboo Airways of Vietnam announced its MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to launch regular flights from Vietnam to the United States. The airlines originally planned for 4 flights per week with their Boeing 787-900 to SFO and will expand the routes from Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) to SFO and other west coast airports shortly after.

shows the model of aircraft used for the route
Bamboo Airways will fly the Boeing-787 to San Francisco ©

Bamboo Airways had announced its plan to fly from Vietnam to the West Coast of the U.S. non-stop earlier this year. The airline has been carrying out repatriation flights in the past few months in order to win over the FAA’s trust for them to operate regularly for scheduled flights.

First Airlines to Fly Directly to the U.S.

Jointly promoted by SFO and BAV, these are the first regular non-stop flights connecting Vietnam and the U.S. of BAV in particular and Vietnam aviation in general.” said Mr. Dang Tat Thang, CEO of Bamboo Airways.

There are currently 5 airlines in Vietnam and 2 of which have the technical capabilities to fly directly from Vietnam to the west coast and they are Bamboo Airways and the flag carrier Vietnam Airlines. Both airlines operate the Boeing 787-9 that has a maximum range of 14000km and are capable of flying to various airports like Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles directly.

to visualize GC distance
Bamboo Airways is connecting the 2 largest cities of Vietnam to San Francisco ©

Back in February 2019, the flag carrier was approved by the Department of Transport in the U.S. to be issued a Cat 1 Rating under FAA’s International Aviation Safety Program (IASA) on behalf of Vietnam. This means the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) has met the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s standard requirements in various aspects of flight operation and it also allows approved Vietnamese airlines to operate to the U.S. or code share with U.S. carriers. However, Vietnam airlines has only operated repatriation flights for Vietnamese citizens as opposed to its plan to establishing regular flight schedules to the U.S. claiming that it is financially unviable.

Bamboo to Start Regular Services at the End of 2021

Bamboo Airways had acquired the slots to fly from Hanoi to San Francisco and Los Angeles back in May earlier this year and had originally planned to begin its regular schedule starting on the 1st of September, however, the plan was pushed back with the southern part of Vietnam being hit severely by the new Covid-19 wave. With most of the cities in lockdown, Bamboo announced to expect the start of the regular schedule at the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022.

Bamboo Airways, the privately-owned new-comer to the already fierce Vietnamese aviation market was founded by the FLC Group back in 2017 and commenced its first flight in 2019. Since then it has grown exponentially with the delivery of the A320 family initially then expanding its fleet to include the Boeing 787s and earlier this year the Embrarer E190/195. FLC group originally planned to operate the airlines to connect its resorts around smaller cities of Vietnam internationally.

Why do you think the flag carrier let Bamboo fly first when they were the one who gained the approval? Share your comments below.

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Leo Cheung
Leo Cheung
Aviation Reporter - Born and raised in Hong Kong, Leo has decided to pursue a career in aviation under the influence of the old Kai Tak Airport back in the days. With a degree in aviation, he has joint Travel Radar as an aviation reporter to diversify his views and apply professional knowledge to anyone who is interested in commercial aviation. He regularly contributes articles with 'inside the cockpit' knowledge.


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