HUH: Bamboo Airways Wants To Fly A380s To The US

Filed Under: Other Airlines

You can file this one under… “what on earth?”

Bamboo Airways: Vietnam’s newest airline

Bamboo Airways is a new Vietnamese airline that commenced operations at the beginning of 2019. The airline currently has a fleet of about 10 Airbus A320 family aircraft, and has a further 76 planes on order, including 46 A321neos and 30 787-9s.

The airline has indicated in the past that they hope to use their 787s to operate long haul flights, including to Asia, Europe, and North America. However, the airline is still a few years off from getting 787s.

In the meantime, the airline has some downright incomprehensible plans.

Bamboo Airways wants to fly to the US

As I wrote about earlier in the year, Vietnam recently received a Category 1 rating with the US Federal Aviation Administration, meaning that airlines can start flying nonstop between the US and Vietnam.

Vietnam Airlines has expressed interest in flying to the US, though nothing has been finalized yet.

Well, it looks like Vietnam Airlines might not be the first Vietnamese airline to fly to the US.

Bamboo Airways has stated that they plan to launch flights to the US in early 2020 using a leased Airbus A380. The company’s CEO has said “we will start in the first quarter of 2020 if we get permission by the end of this year.”

The airline apparently intends to fly from either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City to Los Angeles or San Francisco, and hopes to make a decision in the coming months.

It’s not clear how exactly Bamboo Airways plans to get an A380. I imagine Hi-Fly has the capacity to offer them an A380, though if they’re serious about this I could also see them either leasing an A380 directly, or them having Hi-Fly pick up a second A380 for them to operate these flights.

This is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard

I’ve gotta be honest — I’ve heard a lot of ambitious plans from airlines, though this is possibly the most ambitious and bizarre plan I’ve ever heard from an actual airline (I say “actual” because we also see all kinds of imaginary airlines that will never take off).

There are so many challenges with a flight from Vietnam to the US. Most significantly:

  • It’s a really long flight, so fares will need to be high for this to work
  • It’s a low yield market, so they’ll need a good number of business travelers to make this work
  • They’ll need the right type of plane — one that’s fairly low capacity and fuel efficient

Vietnam Airlines has even admitted that if they launched this flight they’d probably lose money, and they’re a much bigger network carrier.

But for a small airline like Bamboo Airways to launch nonstop flights to the US with A380s is… insanity?

I’ll be very curious to see if this flight happens.

  1. Can’t they get their online credit system accepting U.S. credit card payment first before they start fly over here? Trying to book a ticket on Vietnam domestic flight but their online website only accept Vietnam credit card.

  2. “Bamboo Airways Wants To Fly A380s To The US”

    So do I. My start-up airline is called “SnicAir” and we are accepting investments towards the purchase of our first A380. I happen to have really enjoyed my recent vacation to Honduras, so our first A380 route will be San Pedro Sula to my hometown airport of White Plains, NY.

  3. Remember the old joke that asks the best way to make a small fortune in the airline business?
    (Answer: start with a large fortune)

    So apropros and timeless.

  4. A used 380 has to be dirt cheap at this point and they can probably cram 600 economy seats on there along with a decent J cabin. If they charge for bags then they might be able to get it to work out for them as most VFR traffic to SE asia tends to check 2 bags/boxes.

  5. Try to click on the weblink bar, carelessly add an “I” after the last “/“
    Interesting extension article

  6. Maybe cargo will be their main driver? Lots of talk about Vietnam taking China’s place to counter tariffs on at least some goods

  7. It’s one of those publicity grabbing stunts that will never happen. Traffic between SE Asia and the US is way too fragmented meaning there will be some powerful one stop options. I can’t imagine how this would even be possible given that larger carriers such as Thai or even SIA haven’t dared launch a non-stop A380 service to the US. How will they? And that too most likely with a cabin configuration that even a premium business centric carrier like SIA found unviable.

  8. They also need to codeshare with a partner in the US that can feed traffic to SFO/LAX and connecting.

  9. I think they want to blahhh blahhh it out just to get their name out but actual implementation will not materialize. even with 777 it is not a done deal or profitable while VN airlines are government owned and deep pocket, bamboo is private.

  10. This is a VERY SMART business decision! I applaud them!

    (NOT SARCASM). Product over profit always.

  11. Well, Vietnam is a burgeoning vacation destination and there aren’t really many direct flights, so its probably not as outlandish as it seems.

  12. Their group might even have more money than VN. Leasing a second hand, cheap A380 would not impact its parent company’s finance.

  13. Not as crazy as you may think, Bamboo’s parent company is a big real estate developer in Vietnam, FLC Group. They have deep pocket. There are over 2 Million Vietnamese-Americans living in the US. I know it’s not a premium market, but there will be enough leisure travelers to sustain. There are talks of VietJet joining in race to have direct flights to the US.

  14. I was in Vietnam in January. It has a thriving economy and tourist trade. Plenty of US tourists both on packages and travelling independently, including war vets who are welcomed. Apart from foreign tourists there is a massive, relatively untapped VFR market of first, second soon to be third generation ex pat Vietnamese living in the US and Canada. Vietnam is building new targeted tourism infrastructure including a massive development south of Da Nang aimed at the Chinese and US gambling markets, consisting of beach side luxury hotels with casinos, shopping and massive choice of restaurants.

  15. It is not so stupid.
    1.Ten years ago , few mainland Chinese were taking package tours to USA now they are everywhere. The Vietnamese income is rising and they will be next to invade the package tour tourist space in USA
    2. Two million Viet Americans in USA who will want to see their homeland .
    3. General American tourism from USA to Vietnam which is a cheap and interesting destination . Currently half the price of Thailand
    4. Direct flights more popular than one stop .
    5. Lots of goods manufactured in Vietnam and many foreign factories being set up to avoid Trumps China trade restrictions . Vietnam likes US foods like beef . So airfreight a good possibility .

  16. I dunno this will happen in long term VFR is too seasonal. Competition with northeast Asian carriers is cut throat plus Vietnam neighbor Philippine airlines has more than 50 flights per week to u. s. and canada making the only southeast Asian Airlines with the most number of flights to America… Cargo?! Forget about it. Trump is eyeing to slap tariff on Vietnam because China is diverting its goods to Vietnam.

  17. @Experienced traveller the idea of a direct flight isn’t stupid, but using an A380 is rather questionable

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