General Director of Vietnam Airlines Duong Tri Thanh said that it would take a long time to break even or make profit through direct flights to the US.
He spoke to DTiNews about the opening the Vietnam-US direct air route which was approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.
Vietnam Airlines General Director Duong Tri Thanh
According to Thanh, it would not be easy to complete legal procedures for the air route. It was already quite difficult just to export dragon fruit and litchi into the US, so it would be much harder to open the flights to the country due to the strict security requirements.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) worked with Vietnam Airlines for many times and said that the carrier has met requirements to open flights to the US. So, Thanh hoped FAA would approve the CAT1 aviation safety rating for Vietnam Airlines this year.
However, Thanh added that, it would be impossible to launch Vietnam-US direct flights this year as many procedures need to be completed. He expected that the air route would be opened by late 2019 or early 2020.
He also expressed the concerns about the loss possibility, noting that it would take five years to break even for the air route. “The national carrier flag would suffer from loss of USD30 million a year for the first five years of operation, so we need to figure out how to reduce the losses to below USD30 million annually.”
The Vietnam-US air route would be opened by late 2019 or early 2020
This air route is very competitive with low-priced tickets but high costs, he explained. Thanh mentioned co-operation with other airlines to operate the route.
Vietnam’s current Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350-900 XWB can’t be used for direct flights to the US, and still require stops. In the coming time, it is expected that more modern airplanes will be produced to meet this demand.
Regarding flight frequency, Thanh said that at least 3-4 flights a week on the route will be conducted and then will be raised.
At present, dozens of airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, ANA and Eva are providing flights to the US, so tickets on this route are very competitive.
The target passengers for the air route are American Vietnamese, Vietnamese people who work and study in the US, American tourists and business people.
Thanh said that the American Vietnamese community know about Vietnam Airlines and the carrier is trying to develop brand recognition among other Americans.
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