The HCMC-San Francisco flight takes off from Tan Son Nhat Airport on November 28, 2021. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Airlines
A regular non-stop flight from Ho Chi Minh City touched down in San Francisco Monday morning, the first operated by a Vietnamese carrier to the U.S.
The flight carrying over 30 passengers, mainly Vietnamese Americans, took off from Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC at 8:57 p.m. Sunday (local time) and landed at San Francisco International Airport at 7:42 p.m. Sunday (local time), after a 13,000-kilometer journey.
"The success of the inaugural commercial direct flight to the U.S. marked a new milestone for Vietnam Airlines in particular and Vietnam's aviation in general," said President and CEO of Vietnam Airlines, Le Hong Ha, in a statement.
Ivar C. Satero, Director of San Francisco Airport, said in the statement released by Vietnam Airlines: "We are honored to be the first airport in the U.S. to offer nonstop regular flights to Vietnam. We are proud to offer a world-class experience with seamless access throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and grateful to Vietnam Airlines for making San Francisco their first U.S. destination."
Initially, Vietnam Airlines will conduct two flights per week from HCMC to San Francisco using the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, the two most modern wide-body aircraft.
The airline aims to increase the frequency to seven flights per week after the Covid-19 pandemic is brought under control and the government agrees to resume regular commercial flights. Last week, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said Vietnam plans to reopen regular international flights from next month.
Vietnam Airlines also plans to open a new route connecting Los Angeles to Hanoi and HCMC, Vietnam's two biggest metropolises.
There are nearly 24,000 Vietnamese students and approximately 2.2 million overseas Vietnamese living in the U.S., according to official statistics.
From Nov. 8, Vietnamese tourists are allowed to enter the U.S. but must furnish a certificate proving they had been fully vaccinated and present a negative test result obtained within 72 hours. Although not mandatory, the American government still encourages people to self-isolate for 7-10 days upon arrival.
The U.S. has one of the most stringent aviation standards in the world. There are around 20 airlines operating routes between Vietnam and the U.S.