WASHINGTON - Trade relations between the United States and Vietnam took a giant step forward this week when the chief executives of American Airlines and Vietnam Airlines signed a marketing agreement that will link their route networks. The airlines expect to begin codesharing on each other’s flights next year once they have received government approvals and have worked out operational details.
“We are pleased to have this mutually beneficial opportunity to work with Vietnam Airlines as its U.S. partner,” said Don Carty, American’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We look forward to building our relationship with Vietnam Airlines and are eager to start serving the growing U.S.-Vietnam market. Our alliance will not only make air travel between the U.S. and Vietnam more convenient for thousands of travelers, it will also foster greater economic and cultural ties between our countries.”
“Our alliance with American Airlines is an excellent example of how U.S. and Vietnamese companies can work together to expand commercial activity between our countries,” said Mr. Hien Xuan Nguyen, Vietnam Airlines’ president and chief executive officer. “As a result of our alliance, we expect more and more people will travel between the U.S. and Vietnam; and with increased travel comes greater awareness and understanding between people. We look forward to working with American Airlines to foster a new era in U.S.-Vietnam relations.”
The two companies announced their alliance as the U.S. Congress considers a trade agreement that provides for normalized trade relations between the U.S. and Vietnam.
The two airlines plan to implement codeshare services in phases. Initially, codesharing will be offered between the United States and Vietnam via Paris and Tokyo, with American placing its “AA” designator code on Vietnam Airlines’ flights between Paris and both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and between Tokyo and both Vietnamese cities. Under the arrangement, Vietnam Airlines will place its “VN” designator code on American’s U.S.-Paris and U.S.-Tokyo flights.
In later phases, codesharing will be offered via other Pacific gateways and the airlines will also codeshare on some of each other’s domestic routes.
Headquartered in Hanoi, Vietnam Airlines operates a modern fleet of 26 aircraft, including six Boeing 767s that are used on international routes. It has signed a letter of intent to acquire up to four Boeing 777s that will enable it to offer nonstop service between Vietnam and Paris. Its Paris flights now make a stop in Dubai.
Vietnam Airlines serves 15 cities in Vietnam and 17 international destinations, including Osaka, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Manila and Sydney. It expects to start services to Beijing and other destinations in China later this year and Tokyo in 2002.
Vietnam Airlines has codesharing agreements with several of American’s key Pacific alliance partners, including Japan Airlines and oneworld members Cathay Pacific and Qantas.