Ceremony at Heathrow marks arrival of inaugural Vietnam Airlines flight from HanoiNational carrier Vietnam Airlines announced the arrival of its inaugural flight VN55 at Heathrow Tuesday morning, marking the commencement of its nonstop services between the UK’s global hub airport and Vietnam Airlines’ dual hubs in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The occasion was marked by a welcome ceremony at Heathrow’s Terminal 4, where Vietnam Airlines will be based alongside its fellow SkyTeam members, as well as a series of special celebrations for passengers on arrival; at check-in; and in the T4 departure lounge.
Flight VN55 landed early on Tuesday morning, before arriving passengers were welcomed by Beefeaters and given a commemorative gift of flowers and World Duty Free vouchers. Shortly afterwards, Vietnam Airlines’ check-in desks in Terminal 4’s Zone E were opened for the first time, with departing passengers also welcomed by Beefeaters and presented with special gifts.
This was followed by an official welcome and cake-cutting ceremony in T4’s SkyTeam Lounge, with speeches by Heathrow CEO John Holland Kaye; Mr Le Thanh Dzung, general manager UK & Ireland, Vietnam Airlines; and His Excellency Mr Nguyen Van Thao, Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK. The event was attended by VIPs and senior travel industry figures including representatives of the Guild of Travel Management Companies; the Airline Operators Committee; Air France/KLM; Alitalia; Aeroflot; and Saudia.
Heathrow’s Chief Executive Officer, John Holland-Kaye, commented “Vietnam Airlines’ move to Heathrow, the UK’s hub airport, is good news for Britain as it secures a direct route to an important growth economy, with more frequent flights and greater cargo capacity. As a strategic national asset, only Heathrow can connect all of the UK’s nations and regions to global markets and make it easier for Britain’s exporters to win business and attract investment.”
Vietnam Airlines’ General Manager UK & Ireland, Le Thanh Dzung, added, “We’re delighted to be joining our fellow SkyTeam partners here in Terminal 4. Operating from Heathrow means our passengers can now benefit from world class airport facilities and unrivalled connectivity. Looking forward, it also enables us to offer the increased frequency and capacity needed to build on growing leisure and corporate demand for travel to Vietnam and the Indochina region. As one of the world’s most prestigious hub airports, Heathrow is the perfect platform on which to launch our brand new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft - part of a major fleet-wide upgrade for Vietnam Airlines that will begin rolling out this summer. The new aircraft will also coincide with a fresh new corporate identity and improved service standards, with the aim of achieving four-star Skytrax rating by 2016.”
Heathrow will become the first international destination on the Vietnam Airlines network to be served by the new next-generation Dreamliners. The new aircraft will feature in-flight WiFi and fully flat beds in Business Class, and will also herald the launch of Vietnam Airlines’ new branding and corporate identity - firmly establishing it as the leading carrier for the Indochina region.
Vietnam Airlines’ switch from Gatwick to Heathrow will also see a substantial increase in the frequency of non-stop services to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, rising from four flights to five or six flights per week following the deployment of the airline’s brand new Boeing 787-9s on its UK routes, and then increasing to a daily service for Summer 2016. Vietnam Airlines will initially operate four flights per week from Heathrow, with two weekly departures to Hanoi and two to Ho Chi Minh City.