As early as winter 2010, Air France will launch non-stop service between Ho Chi Minh city(HCMC) and Paris three times a week using Boeing 747-400s, then Boeing 777-300ERs, the carrier said in a statement on its website.
Air France said all flights to Vietnam would be non-stop in November 2010. This carrier suspended a code-share pact with Vietnam Airlines in 2005 for non-stop flights between Paris and Vietnam to focus on other Asian routes, leaving the Vietnamese airline the sole operator of direct flights on this route.
Air France implemented a code-share agreement with Vietnam Airlines in April 2004, becoming the first Western carrier to operate non-stop flights to Vietnam. These two airlines had since conducted seven non-stop weekly services between France and HCMC and five to Hanoi before the suspension.
From July 3, Air France’s passengers will be able to fly non-stop again from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris to either HCMC or Hanoi three times a week on the flights operated by Vietnam Airlines.
Vietnam Airlines will use Boeing 777-200s for flights under Air France’s AF code. As scheduled, AF 176 will arrive in Hanoi at 6:35 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays and the AF 177 will depart at 11:40 p.m. on the same days.
These code-share flights will be an addition to the seven services that Air France already operates via Bangkok to Hanoi and HCMC.
At present, the airline is offering an economy-class roundtrip ticket from Hanoi or HCMC to Bangkok from US$79, or US$10 lower than the normal fare.
Passengers should book the discount fare online at www.airfrance.com.vn until April 30 for travel between April and June 30, 2010. The return flight from Bangkok must be within July 31, 2010.
Air France’s current weekly flights to Vietnam include four to HCMC and three to Hanoi. With the addition, the airline will be operating 13 flights a week, including six between Paris and Hanoi and seven on the Paris-HCMC route.
Air France unveiled the partnership with Vietnam Airlines to expand services toward this growing market when the latter is striving to obtain full membership of the global airline alliance SkyTeam that also groups Air France in June this year.
Nine SkyTeam member and associate airlines are Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air France, Alitalia, China Southern Airlines, CSA Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, Air Europa and Kenya Airways. These carriers operate more than 13,130 daily flights to 856 destinations in 169 countries and territories.
Vietnam Airlines was accepted as a full member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in 2006.
It now operates a young fleet of 70 modern aircraft for flights on 72 routes to 20 domestic and 26 international destinations.
Vietnam Airlines is expected to add 20 destinations to the SkyTeam network, including 13 cities in Vietnam, and is looking to 9.3 million passengers using its domestic and international services this year.