Bamboo Airways Plans Vietnam To USA Flights

Bamboo Airways Plans Vietnam To USA Flights

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For the past several months there has been talk of Bamboo Airways’ plans to launch flights between Vietnam and the United States. There are a lot of foreign airlines that talk about launching flights to the United States, but often it doesn’t materialize.

Well, Bamboo Airways is very much moving forward with its plans, and we could see regularly scheduled flights between the two countries within a few months. First I wanted to provide the latest update on Bamboo Airways flying to the USA, and then recap what we’ve known for a while.

Bamboo Airways will operate 12 flights to the USA

Bamboo Airways has plans to operate a dozen flights to the United States between September and November of 2021:

  • These will be “proving” flights, ahead of the airline launching regularly scheduled service
  • The airline will operate flights to Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), and Seattle (SEA), with the first flight scheduled to operate on September 23, 2021
  • Coinciding with these test flights, the airline is working on setting up an office in the United States, signing a memorandum of understanding with the airports it intends to fly to, and meeting with Boeing representatives in Seattle
Bamboo Airways Boeing 787-9

Bamboo Airways’ planned LAX & SFO service

While Bamboo Airways will operate a dozen flights to the United States over the coming weeks, when should we expect regularly scheduled flights? It’s stated that Bamboo Airways intends to launch regularly scheduled nonstop flights between Vietnam and the United States as of the end of 2021 or early 2022.

The plan is for the airline to operate nonstop from Ho Chi Minh City to both Los Angeles and San Francisco using Boeing 787-9 aircraft. While we haven’t heard any updates on this front, some previous reports suggested the following specific flight times for this service:

  • The 8,169 mile flight between Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and Los Angeles (LAX) would land at LAX at 9:30AM and depart again at 12:30PM
  • The 7,838 mile flight between Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and San Francisco (SFO) would land at SFO at 10AM and depart again at 1PM

Even with Bamboo Airways making progress towards launching these flights, I wouldn’t take regularly scheduled service as a sure bet until it actually happens. We’ve heard talk about airlines in Vietnam wanting to fly nonstop to the USA for a very long time:

Bamboo Airways’ planned USA routes

Bamboo Airways’ DOT approval for USA flights

While Bamboo Airways has made it clear that it plans to fly to LAX and SFO, it’s worth looking at the carrier’s filing with the US Department of Transportation (DOT), back when it requested permission to fly to the United States. The airline sought permission to:

  • Operate service between Hanoi and/or Ho Chi Minh City and the United States via intermediate points of Nagoya, Osaka, and/or Taipei (it’s noted that the airline wouldn’t be able to carry passengers between Japan and the United States, but that wasn’t stated for Taiwan)
  • Operate flights to Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, and Dallas
  • Operate even further connecting service between the United States and Canada, to Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto

It seems like the airline just requested more permission than it would need, because as filed, these plans seem bizarre. A Boeing 787-9 can fly nonstop from Ho Hi Minh City to both Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are the planned routes.

A stop would be needed for Dallas and New York service, for example, but I have a hard time imagining those routes will become a reality (since in that case the airline doesn’t have a competitive advantage over other airlines offering one-stop service).

Then the concept of offering connecting service to Canada is even stranger. What kind of a routing are we talking about here — Ho Chi Minh City to Osaka to New York to Montreal, for example?

Like I said, the Ho Chi Minh City to Los Angeles and San Francisco flights seem to be in the cards for now, while I wouldn’t expect any of the other routes that permission was requested for.

What is Bamboo Airways, anyway?

For those of you not familiar with Bamboo Airways, it’s a privately owned and ridiculously fast growing Vietnamese airline that was founded in 2017. The airline already has dozens of planes, including brand new Airbus A321neos and Boeing 787-9s.

The airline initially operated regionally, and then in early 2020 announced plans to launch its first long haul route to Prague. As you’d expect, that didn’t happen quite as planned due to the pandemic.

Frankly I can’t fully wrap my head around the economics of this airline. Admittedly many costs (including labor) are lower in Vietnam, and the country is also growing fast and very pro-business. But still, the carrier’s growth is… unconventional.

Bamboo Airways also flies Airbus A321neos

What are Bamboo Airways’ Boeing 787-9s like?

Bamboo Airways will use Boeing 787-9s for flights to the USA. The airline already has three of these in its fleet, with a further 11 on order. Bamboo Airways has reverse herringbone seats in business class, which are competitive.

Bamboo Airways Boeing 787-9 business class

On top of that, the airline has premium economy and economy seats on Boeing 787-9s.

Bamboo Airways Boeing 787-9 premium economy

Perhaps most intriguing is that some of Bamboo Airways’ future 787 deliveries will allegedly feature first class suites, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see those eventually offered on flights to the United States. We don’t know exactly what kind of a product the airline would offer, though.

Bottom line

In the coming weeks, Bamboo Airways will operate a dozen “test” flights between Vietnam and the United States. The airline then hopes to launch regularly scheduled service to Los Angeles and San Francisco either at the end of 2021 or beginning of 2022.

It’s anyone’s guess if these flights actually end up launching on a regularly scheduled basis. There has been talk of nonstop flights between Vietnam and the United States for such a long time. I will say, I get the sense that this is the closest we’ve ever gotten to service like this becoming a reality.

One thing is for sure — as an airline and passenger experience geek, I’d love to give Bamboo Airways a try. I sure wish Bamboo Airways would have useful airline partnerships for earning & redeeming miles… here’s to hoping we see some of those soon!

Do you think Bamboo Airways will follow through with offering USA service?

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  1. Lam Nguyen

    I would pay non stop routes to Vietnam with double ticket prices from LA, SF or Seattle

  2. ithrowpoop

    They better be serving some Pho on those flights!

  3. Douglas DeNunzio

    The way to go thigh Ryanair to Brussels in an ok’d flight of 32.

  4. Lawrence Sinclair

    It would have made more sense to fly to San Jose (SJC) instead of San Francisco (SFO) since (1) there is one of America's largest Vietnamese communities there, (2) it would probably be less expensive to operate from SJC. SFO is only 45 minutes or so drive away from SJC, so it is not a major difference for most passengers, but more revenue + lower cost would probably be important to the route's viability.

  5. Leslie

    The owner of Bamboo is a Vietnamese billionaire real estate developer. I think the original idea was to provide flights to his resort developments, Flew it once in Vietnam. Didn't seem super professional but their flights are consistently on time unlike Vietnam Airlines and VietJet.

  6. Rico

    There's a large Vietnamese population in Orange County, California. Maybe they should start non-stop service to John Wayne.

    1. Brandon Rabb

      Runway ain't long enough. It's fall right off into the 73 highway. Lol. That airport would make the most sense though. A better option would be ONT though.

    2. Rico

      That's too bad. Post-COVID Disney would clean up with this and other direct flights from Asia. Maybe they'd chip in to lengthen the runway.

  7. Lac Long Quan

    We better wait until covid has been under control.

  8. Ralph4878

    One-stop flights to Texas make sense, given the large Vietnamese-American populations in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex and Houston. Vietnamese, I believe, is the third most spoken language in Texas after English and Spanish. A Texas destination makes more sense from this perspective than NYC, though the prestige factor of NYC seems tough for airlines to resist...

    1. Super

      The point is that one-stop flights from Texas to Vietnam already exist for very cheap. I'm seeing roughly $1,100 RT Economy flights from DFW-SGN thru JAL. Bamboo would have to offer a competitive advantage to take people away from those flights (such as non-stop), as they probably can't get much lower cost than that.

    2. Ralph4878

      I understood the point, and I disagree.
      $1,100 r/t to Vietnam in Y is not a competitive fare - the Chinese airlines have been running sub-$500 fares for years. Granted, I'd pay the extra $$$ to fly JAL over China Southern, and to avoid connecting through Mainland China, any day...but if Bamboo's crews are all Vietnamese, the cost of running the flight re: labor could be much cheaper than JAL (or a AA-to-JAL) or...

      I understood the point, and I disagree.
      $1,100 r/t to Vietnam in Y is not a competitive fare - the Chinese airlines have been running sub-$500 fares for years. Granted, I'd pay the extra $$$ to fly JAL over China Southern, and to avoid connecting through Mainland China, any day...but if Bamboo's crews are all Vietnamese, the cost of running the flight re: labor could be much cheaper than JAL (or a AA-to-JAL) or KE. Thus, I can see Bamboo being more competitive price-wise - operationally, they will likely have lower costs than the other legacy carriers.

    3. Super

      You just proved my point... replace my original statement of $1,100 rt with sub-$500 thru China. China subsidizes it's airlines so they can offer those fares. Vietnam would have to more than match the subsidies China provides, and then we're back at Ben's point where Vietnam Airlines acknowledges they'd lose money operating the routes to the USA, which hints that Vietnam Gov doesn't want to compete with subsidies. So back to my original points, 1....

      You just proved my point... replace my original statement of $1,100 rt with sub-$500 thru China. China subsidizes it's airlines so they can offer those fares. Vietnam would have to more than match the subsidies China provides, and then we're back at Ben's point where Vietnam Airlines acknowledges they'd lose money operating the routes to the USA, which hints that Vietnam Gov doesn't want to compete with subsidies. So back to my original points, 1. Bamboo can't compete with fares, and 2. It can't operate non-stop, so there's no competitive advantage and no point flying to Texas.

  9. J898

    Aeroplan - Bamboo partnership in the offing?

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Lam Nguyen

I would pay non stop routes to Vietnam with double ticket prices from LA, SF or Seattle

Super

You just proved my point... replace my original statement of $1,100 rt with sub-$500 thru China. China subsidizes it's airlines so they can offer those fares. Vietnam would have to more than match the subsidies China provides, and then we're back at Ben's point where Vietnam Airlines acknowledges they'd lose money operating the routes to the USA, which hints that Vietnam Gov doesn't want to compete with subsidies. So back to my original points, 1. Bamboo can't compete with fares, and 2. It can't operate non-stop, so there's no competitive advantage and no point flying to Texas.

Ralph4878

I understood the point, and I disagree. $1,100 r/t to Vietnam in Y is not a competitive fare - the Chinese airlines have been running sub-$500 fares for years. Granted, I'd pay the extra $$$ to fly JAL over China Southern, and to avoid connecting through Mainland China, any day...but if Bamboo's crews are all Vietnamese, the cost of running the flight re: labor could be much cheaper than JAL (or a AA-to-JAL) or KE. Thus, I can see Bamboo being more competitive price-wise - operationally, they will likely have lower costs than the other legacy carriers.

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