Ahead of the ITB Berlin trade sow, Travel Daily Media chats with Ngo Tri Hung, Vietnam Airlines’ general manager for Germany, about his company’s fleet and network development plans…
Q) Vietnam Airlines recently launched its first Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 flights. What has the response been like from passengers on these services?
After putting new Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 aircraft into operation between Hanoi–Ho Chi Minh City from July 2015, and Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh City to London (UK) in September 2015, to Paris (France), Frankfurt (Germany) and Seoul (Korea) in October 2015, as well as simultaneously applying 4-star services on long-haul, our customers have new tendency and willing to adjust their travel schedules with the desire to experience new products.
In the first month of operation, the load factor on the route Hanoi–HCMC reached an average of 90%; on the routes between Vietnam and France, the load factor rose two and 10 points on business class and premium economy class respectively over the same period. The responses have been positively that give passengers more comfort and demonstrate the commitment of Vietnam Airlines in improving service quality to a standard four-star airline, as well as a leading one in the region.
Q) As you receive more of these aircraft, which further destinations are you intending to deploy them to?
Vietnam Airlines is the first airline in Asia which receives and puts into operation at the same time two new aircraft including Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A350-900. This is an important development of Vietnam Airlines to modernise its fleet and improve the quality of services. The new generation of aircraft, which is 20% fuel saving, lower maintenance cost per hour, higher operational efficiency is expected to replace the old wide-body fleet and to serve the expansion plan in some long-haul routes in the long-term. With outstanding features, Vietnam Airlines has optimised these new aircraft efficiency by putting into operation on long-hauls of its flight network, such as to Northeast Asia (Japan, Korea), Europe (including UK, France and Germany) and Australia.
Q) What are your key areas of expansion, and is Vietnam Airlines considering launching trans-Pacific flights to North America in future?
To meet the travel demand that is predicted to rise, Vietnam Airlines has evaluated the feasibility of new operation to some potential destinations in NEA/SEA, studied to serve more additional destinations in EU and US as well.
In recent years, US has been considered to be an important market with large-scale and prosperous potentials for Vietnam Airlines. We have been working in codeshare with a number of partners in the SkyTeam alliance through the gateway Narita, Frankfurt, Taipei to the US. The cooperation will help Vietnam Airlines serve better sources of passengers to the US, gradually penetrate into this potential market to prepare for its direct route plan to the US in near future. With our network expansion and strategy, we hope to strengthen our airline competitiveness through global air connectivity.
Q) How will the recent investment by ANA Group impact Vietnam Airlines’ future operations and expansion?
On 12 January 2016, Vietnam Airlines and the ANA Group entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the ANA Group to acquire a stake in Vietnam Airlines worth US$108 million. The partnership will also provide for the ANA Group and Vietnam Airlines to enable both to take maximum advantage of the increasing demand for air services in the Asian market and, in particular, in the Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam group of countries which has one of the highest growth potentials in the region. ANA is one of the leading airlines in the region and in the world.
The cooperation with ANA Group will help Vietnam Airlines acquire new management technologies, expand the market, improve service quality, increase competitiveness on international markets. We strongly believe this comprehensive cooperation will enhance the value, brand and image of Vietnam Airlines.
Q) What major new developments are Vietnam Airlines planning for 2016, and what are your company’s main priorities?
For 2015, we accomplished the goals of simultaneously receiving two new generation aircraft, applying new corporate identity and four-star international standard service with most of the index reached four-star and some at four-star standard. For 2016, we focus on standardising its service to be certificated four-star by Skytrax, as well as to ensure the operation of new aircraft safely and efficiently. Vietnam Airlines is aiming to become one of the leading airlines in the Asia by 2020, “reaching further” (as commitment in the tagline) in aviation industry as well as enabling the country to comprehensively participate in the global economy.