Vietnam Airlines is set to leave Gatwick operations and will launch a direct service from London Heathrow, Heathrow Airport said in a release.
The new Heathrow services will operate to Hanoi on Tuesday and Friday and Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday and Saturday, with the change taking place on all flights from March 31, 2014. New bookings will be available from January 12, 2015.
Starting July 2015, the airline will use its new fleet of 787-9 Dreamliners to operate five weekly services to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The route frequency will be further increased to a daily service at a later date.
The increased frequencies to Vietnam is expected to improve British businesses, benefiting from increased direct access to a market where import demand is expected to grow by around 250 percent between 2010 and 2020 – faster than any other emerging economy, including China.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: ‘We are delighted that Vietnam Airlines has chosen to operate its new Dreamliner 787 fleet from Heathrow, securing regular direct flights from the UK to a vital emerging market. This 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 GBP211bn in GDP and 180,000 new jobs.’
Vietnam Airlines CEO Dr Pham Ngoc Minh said: ‘Less than four years after successfully launching the first ever non-stop services between the UK and Vietnam, we are delighted that our passengers will soon 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.’
Vietnam Airlines General Manager UK & Ireland Le Thanh Dzung added: ‘The launch of Vietnam Airlines’ non-stop services from London saw UK arrivals into Vietnam rise by over 40 per cent year on year, and both the leisure and corporate markets have grown steadily ever since. Moving our operations to Heathrow will enable us to offer the increased frequency and capacity needed to build on and cater to this growing demand. As a prestigious global hub airport, Heathrow also provides a perfect platform on which to launch our new, world class product and branding.’
Vietnam Airlines started its services to London in December 2011 using a Boeing 777 aircraft, and has been operating four services weekly from London Gatwick. The busy Heathrow currently has a queue of 30 airlines waiting for slots, and the agreement with Vietnam Airlines reportedly took seven years to materialise.