Vietnam Airlines has begun its daily service from Heathrow Terminal 4 with a direct flight from to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
The route frequency will be further increased to a daily service, from the present five times weekly, as Vietnam Airlines benefits from the strong transfer traffic and premium passenger demand that Heathrow attracts.
The increased Vietnam frequencies will boost British businesses and improve direct access to a market where import demand is expected to grow by around 250 per cent between 2010 and 2020 – faster than any other emerging economy, including China.
There are currently over 26 emerging market destinations with daily flights from Continental European hubs but not connected to Heathrow – a situation that is estimated to be costing the UK economy £14 billion annually in lost trade, tourism and inward investment.
Because Heathrow is full, slot availability for long-haul routes is rare.
The agreement with Vietnam Airlines took seven years to come to fruition, and Heathrow currently has a queue of thirty airlines waiting for slots.
Although some airlines have attempted to operate from point-to-point airports, many more have instead opted to base their operations at hubs abroad.
Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “We are delighted to welcome Vietnam Airlines to Heathrow.
“Securing regular direct flights from the UK to a vital emerging market 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 £211 billion in GDP and 180,000 new jobs.”