Vietnam's Bamboo Airways is soaring into Australian skies, with non-stop flights from both Sydney and Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City – commonly and formerly officially known as Saigon – as well as Hanoi set to take off.
The new services capitalise on a fast-growing market and what was one of Asia's most popular tourism destinations prior to the pandemic, while also serving the large Vietnamese population in Sydney and Melbourne. Vietnam intends to remove most restrictions on international tourists from March 15.
While Hanoi is the Vietnamese capital, Ho Chi Minh City is a drawcard for Bamboo's debut, being the nation's commercial hub and a primary destination for business and tourism alike.
Executive Traveller understands March 30 will see the launch of twice-weekly services from Sydney to Ho Chi Minh City, as well as Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City, with the option of growing both routes to four flights per week later in the year "subject to demand."
Those will be followed on April 27 with the first direct service between Melbourne and Hanoi; this will start at just one flight per week, again with the intention to add flights as demand grows.
"We expect the upcoming regular nonstop Vietnam-Australia route of Bamboo Airways will help maximize passengers' benefits when traveling between the two countries while making a substantial contribution to the promotion of bilateral cooperation in economy, culture, and people-to-people exchange," said Nguyen Manh Quan, Executive Deputy General Director of Bamboo Airways.
More Australian cities to come?
And Bamboo Airways has its eye on additional Australian cities, with Truong Phuong Thanh, Deputy General Director of Bamboo Airways, describing the opening of the Melbourne-Hanoi route as "a crucial premise for Bamboo Airways to further expand the non-stop flight network to other destinations in Australia, and to connect Australia with countries in Europe and Asia through Vietnam as a transport hub."
Prior to Covid-19, Bamboo Airways’ rival Vietnam Airlines and Qantas' low-cost arm Jetstar connected Melbourne with Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, while Vietnam Airlines ran direct Sydney-Hanoi flights on its own Boeing 787.
Bamboo Airways, which launched only in 2019, will rely on its modern Boeing 787 for these Australian flights.
The Dreamliner's business class is based upon the same Collins ‘Super Diamond’ platform which Australian travellers would recognise from the likes of Air Canada’s Boeing 787 Signature Class, Fiji Airways’ A350 business class, and of course, Virgin Australia’s now-defunct ‘The Business’ cabin.
Serving as a suitable workspace for daytime flying, the seat transforms into a fully-flat bed after hours so high flyers can stretch out and relax.
There's also a premium economy cabin with comfortable recliners in a 2-3-2 layout, as shown below, with economy seats further back.
Bamboo Airways is not part of any of the 'big three' airline alliances, but membership of its Bamboo Club loyalty program delivers a set of priority perks with Gold status plus lounge access, complimentary upgrades and a more generous checked baggage allowance at the Diamond and First tiers.
In mid-2021 the airline ran an aggressive status match promotion open to frequent flyers on all member airlines of the Oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance families, offering instant Bamboo Club Gold, Diamond and First status.
While this promotion has long since closed, there's little doubt that Australian frequent flyers would welcome its return now that Bamboo Airways has finally arrived.