Vietnam Airlines plans to start first U.S. route in October.

Vietnam Airlines is pushing ahead with plans to start its first flights to the U.S. in late October even as it seeks to mitigate losses from the virtual suspension of operations during the nation’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

The carrier will use either Boeing 787 or Airbus A350 aircraft for its inaugural U.S. route -Ho Chi Minh City to San Francisco- that will also rely on transporting cargo to offset initial low passenger demand, Chief Executive Officer Le Hong Ha said in an interview. The route will include a refueling stop, he added. During the pandemic the airline has operated charter flights to transport Vietnamese home from the U.S., Bloomberg reported.

See also: South African Airways announces resumption of flights.

The national carrier, whose units include budget Pacific Airlines and Vietnam Air Services Co., is facing a 75% drop in revenue this year compared with 2019 after a loss of about 7 trillion dong ($307 million) in the first half of 2021 due to the Covid-19 outbreak, according to Ha.

The government last year restricted in-bound international flights to those transporting Vietnamese returning home, key business and company experts and diplomats. Domestic flights, which resumed last summer after significant curbs, have again reduced since June as the virus outbreak gained strength, with barely no flights now.

The carrier, which has suffered a 55% drop in the total number of domestic and international flights this year, will decide in September if its needs additional support from the government, he said.

Photo: Anna Zvereva/Wikimedia

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