A seven-year wait by a Southeast Asian flag-carrier airline has finally come to an end with the allocation of a landing slot at London’s Heathrow Airport. The first Vietnam Airlines service from Vietnam, Flight VN55, landed at Heathrow on Tuesday morning and arriving passengers were presented with special commemorative gifts.
Vacant slots at one of the planet’s busiest airports are hard to come by. A spokesperson said recently that 30 airlines are waiting to be allocated landing rights here.
John Holland-Kaye, Heathrow’s CEO, said the airport was happy to welcome Vietnam Airlines. He continued by saying that the inauguration of direct flights between one of the globe’s fastest developing economies and Heathrow was a testament to its premier position as an integral hub airport. Vietnam Airlines released a statement in January of this year saying it would be switching its UK hub of operations from Gatwick Airport to Heathrow.
Vietnam Airlines operates out of Terminal 4 and joins SkyTeam affiliates such as Air France and Aeroflot here. At present, Vietnam Airlines operates round-trip services twice a week from each of its two hubs in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The carrier will be taking delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner this summer and is then expected to up the frequency to a daily service.
Dr Pham Ngoc Minh is the CEO of Vietnam Airlines and he told reporters the carrier’s aim was to snap up the title of best Southeast Asian airline. He continued with the statement that only four years after launching direct Vietnam-UK flights, the airline was now operating out of one the world’s finest airports.