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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

VNA Aims to fly Saigon to Los Angeles Direct in 2016

Author's Note: A substantial version of this entry was originally posted on the forum on January 1, 2015.

VNA outlines its fleet and route expansion plans in its IPO prospectus, including the desire for direct SGN-LAX service in 2016.

In Vietman Airlines' (VNA's) initial public offering (IPO) prospectus, a very interesting tidbit popped out at me, regarding VNA's route expansion plans:
"North America: We carefully expand our presence in this market in order to maintain the efficiency of the entire network. In specific, to develop our trans-Pacific network, route from Ho Chi Minh City to Los Angeles will be inaugurated in 2016 while flights to San Francisco, Washington and Vancouver will be inaugurated when applicable."
Obviously a lot can happen (or not happen) in 1-2 years. I do think the lynchpin to this whole expansion plan is the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) acceptance of Vietnam-flagged aircraft into US airports, and that's predicated by Vietnam's Civil Aviation Authority (CAAV) meeting the International Civil Aviation Organization's safety standards.

VNA must be very optimistic that the issues can be worked out.

If you'll allow me to indulge in my own speculation:

  • The FAA will have to give VNA their blessing sometime in 2015 to make the 2016 timeframe work.
  • SGN-LAX would instantly become VNA's crown jewel route (sorry Paris-CDG). 
  • VNA would throw the best equipment they have on this route if available, so an Airbus A350 (A359), which has more seats than a Boeing 787-9 (B789)... or may even push VN into acting on their memo of understanding in regards to the Airbus A380,
  • I see San Francisco (SFO) going A359; Vancouver and Washington, DC could go B789.
  • San Jose (SJC) will try give VNA the kitchen sink to win the route over SFO; it would be more convenient to the expatriate & refugee population centered in San Jose, and SJC would love to have another Asian destination (in addition to Tokyo [NRT] on ANA [NH]).
  • I'm surprised Houston (IAH) wasn't mentioned, perhaps it was an oversight? A B789 would work well on that route.
  • Since launching SGN-LAX would require a bilateral agreement, I would guess that a US-based carrier would launch service to compete with VNA. The obvious choice would be United (UA), as they already fly to SGN via Hong Kong (HKG). However, I'm putting my money with long odds on American (AA) with a B789.
What do you think?

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