In the latest development in its Pacific Rim strategy, Air New Zealand will next year launch its first direct service to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The new service will bring to 30 the number of international destinations the carrier serves.
Air New Zealand will fly three times a week between Auckland and Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport on a seasonal basis, operating from June to October in 2016 with the potential to expand the season in subsequent years.
With a flight time of around 11 hours, the direct service will be operated by the airline’s B767-300.
The New Zealand airline is under increasing competitive pressure, with American Airlines set to add new nonstop, B787-8 Dreamliner service between Auckland and Los Angeles from June 2016. The route is currently an Air New Zealand monopoly.
On the home front, Qantas offshoot Jetstar will launch a new fleet of aircraft onto New Zealand regional services from the middle of next month.
Chief executive Christopher Luxon says selecting Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam as a new international destination is in line with the airline’s Pacific Rim focus.
“Vietnam is an increasingly popular leisure destination with the number of Kiwis visiting the country up about 20% in the past year. It’s a holiday spot that has huge appeal and we’re confident that by offering a direct service even more Kiwis will be keen to explore it. Our entry point of Ho Chi Minh City in the south of Vietnam and provides the ideal gateway for visitors to experience its diversity.”
Luxon says, “Air New Zealand’s new service to Vietnam is significantly more convenient, and quicker than current indirect options. It will also provide a direct link for Vietnamese travellers coming to New Zealand and we look forward to welcoming them.”
The Vietnam development builds on Air New Zealand’s new direct services to Buenos Aires and Houston, both of which commence flying next month.
Tickets will go on sale in early 2016, subject to government and regulatory approvals.
Written by Peter Needham