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Vietnam Airlines Completes First-Ever Direct Flight to United States

Welcome to the big leagues.

Vietnam Airlines' first direct flight to the United States departed from Ho Chi Minh City at 8:57pm last night. The official Twitter account of San Francisco International Airport tweeted a welcome message for the flight, with the plane landing at 10:42am Vietnam time. 

VNA had been working towards this moment for years, and cleared the final hurdle on November 16, when the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted the airline a foreign air operator certificate.

Tuoi Tre reports that VNA plans to operate two direct flights between Vietnam and the US per week, using Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Once regular inbound commercial flights are allowed to resume, this frequency might increase to seven flights per week, though the timeline for this is unclear.

The flight from Vietnam to the US takes 13 hours and 50 minutes, while the return flight is in the air for 16 hours and 40 minutes. 

VnExpress adds that VNA is also exploring the possibility of opening a flight to Los Angeles, which is a home to one of the world's largest Vietnamese communities outside of Vietnam. 

This comes as the national carrier reported net losses of over US$154 million in the third quarter, which was actually an improvement compared to the first half of 2021. In the first nine months of the year, VNA lost over US$530 million, with international flights still largely grounded and domestic aviation getting hammered by ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. 

[Top image via Flickr user byeangle]