Northwest eyes Vietnam debut

Northwest Airlines
has participated in the first-ever U.S. trade mission to
Vietnam and is ready to begin new service as soon as government
restrictions are eased. Northwest would serve Vietnam via Tokyo, the
focal point of Northwest’s vast Asia-Pacific network.

  “Vietnam has a vibrant, growing economy that is expanding at an
annual rate of eight to ten percent,” said Fred Deschamps, Northwest’s
vice president - international marketing and sales who is on the trade
mission led by U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez. “Northwest
wants to participate in the development of this exciting new market
and bring the benefits of a new U.S. carrier - and the NWA network -
to Vietnam.”

  Northwest said the Government of Vietnam first needs to ease
restrictions on U.S. carrier service via Japan. Currently, the U.S. -
Vietnam air service agreement does not allow airlines to pick up or
drop off Vietnam passengers in Japan. Northwest believes that
eliminating this barrier is a “win-win” situation for both Northwest
and Vietnam Airlines, particularly since Vietnam’s carrier has
announced plans to fly Ho Chi Minh City - Osaka - Los Angeles service
in 2008 and would be able to carry local passengers between Osaka and
Los Angeles.

  Freeing up air commerce would serve the economic policy goals of
the Government of Vietnam by stimulating trade and investment.
Important Northwest customers, including Ford, 3M and Dow Chemical,
are participating in the trade mission and would benefit from the new
service as they seek to develop their operations in Vietnam.

  Neal Cohen, Northwest’s executive vice president - strategy and
international said, “Northwest has one of the best Asia networks of
any U.S. carrier. We fly to twelve Pacific Rim destinations from our
Tokyo hub. Vietnam should be the next.”


  The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam and Ministry of
Transport will consider Northwest’s request in the context of future
government-to-government negotiations.