APRIL 1ST, 2015

Heathrow welcomes Vietnam Airlines

Vietnam Airlines will begin operating from Heathrow Terminal 4 on Tuesday 31 March
The airline launches its new 787-9 fleet from the UK’s hub from July
Vietnam Airlines has begun its direct service to Heathrow Terminal 4 and operates four weekly services to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from the UK’s hub.

With a new fleet of 787-9 Dreamliners arriving in the summer, the airline will opearte five weekly services to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The route frequency will be further increased to a daily service as Vietnam Airlines benefits from the strong transfer traffic and premium passenger demand that Heathrow attracts.

The increased Vietnam frequencies will boost British businesses and improve direct access to a market where import demand is expected to grow by around 250% between 2010 and 2020 – faster than any other emerging economy, including China.

There are currently over 26 emerging market destinations with daily flights from Continental European hubs but not connected to Heathrow – a situation that is estimated to be costing the UK economy £14 billion annually in lost trade, tourism and inward investment.

Because Heathrow is full, slot availability for long-haul routes is rare. The agreement with Vietnam Airlines took seven years to come to fruition, and Heathrow currently has a queue of thirty airlines waiting for slots. Although some airlines have attempted to operate from point-to-point airports, many more have instead opted to base their operations at hubs abroad. Last year alone, the UK lost over 5 million passengers to rival hubs, whilst a further 2.5 million passengers travelled from Heathrow via the UK’s European competitors due to the lack of long-haul connectivity caused by capacity constraints at Heathrow.

Current new aircraft orders are dominated by 787s and A350s (nearly 70% of current orders) as airlines seek to capitalise on the improved fuel efficiency the aircrafts provide. With 85% of these orders coming from network airlines operating out of hubs, the deployment of the 787 by Vietnam Airlines on the Heathrow route is further proof that the aircraft is actually a ‘hub grower’ and not a ‘hub buster’.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said:

’We are delighted to welcome Vietnam Airlines to Heathrow. Securing regular direct flights from the UK to a vital emerging market demonstrates once again that only a strong hub airport like Heathrow, with a mix of premium direct and transfer passengers, can help Britain win the race for growth.

With Vietnam identified by the government as one of the top twenty growth markets for UK businesses, this new route shows how Heathrow expansion is the best solution for the UK economy, creating up to £211bn in GDP and 180,000 new jobs.’

Vietnam Airlines CEO Dr Pham Ngoc Minh said:

‘Our vision, and that of the government of Vietnam, is for Vietnam Airlines to become the major carrier in Southeast Asia – this move represents a tremendous step forwards in achieving that goal. Less than four years after successfully launching the first ever nonstop services between the UK and Vietnam, we are delighted that our passengers will be able to enjoy daily flights on the very latest and most comfortable aircraft, from one of the world’s most important, advanced and well-connected international hub airports.’