Vietjet’s first scheduled nonstop flights to Australia will take off in March, providing a new connection between Ho Chi Minh City and Melbourne.
The airline has been increasing its widebody fleet in recent months in preparation for the expansion of its long-haul network. A third Airbus A330-300 joined the fleet in December.
Flights between Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) and Melbourne (MEL) will commence on March 31, operating three times per week. Vietjet hopes to increase frequencies to daily by the end of 2024 should market conditions allow.
At a ceremony to announce the new route, Tim Pallas, trade and investment minister for the Australian state of Victoria, said the additional connectivity to Vietnam would increase inbound and outbound leisure traffic, as well as boosting the region’s export markets.
Data from Vietnam’s General Statistics Office found that bilateral trade between Vietnam and Australia reached a record at $12.4 billion in 2021, while air freight exports of Victorian products to Vietnam were valued at $113 million in 2021-22, up 77% on the previous 12 months.
Victoria is also a popular tourism and study destination for visitors from Vietnam. Around 9,500 Vietnamese students are currently enrolled at Victorian institutions—one of the largest international student populations.
Prior to the pandemic, an estimated 53,500 visitors to Victoria were also from Vietnam, which was almost half of all Vietnamese travelers to Australia in 2019.
Vietjet’s flights will add 3,500 tonnes of air freight to Victoria each year, as well as some 136,000 seats between Australia and Vietnam. The government of Victoria hopes the route will generate an AU$97 million ($67 million) annual boost to the state’s economy once fully operational.
“Flying to Victoria will lay the first stones of Vietjet’s grand plan to connect Vietnam and Australia and adds to the airlines’ strategy to connect Vietnam with all continents over the world,” Vietjet MD Dinh Viet Phuong said.
VietJet will be the second Vietnamese airline to establish services to Melbourne since the pandemic after Bamboo Airways commenced flights in April 2022.
For the week commencing Jan. 9, OAG data shows that Vietnam Airlines serves the 6,693-km (3,614-nm) Ho Chi Minh City-Melbourne market eight times per week, while Jetstar Airways and Bamboo offer 3X-weekly and 2X-weekly flights respectively. Bamboo also serves Hanoi (HAN)-Melbourne once a week.
Vietjet’s flights to MEL will depart SGN at 9.50 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, arriving in Melbourne at 10.35 p.m. the same day. The return service on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays will depart at 12.30 a.m. and arrive back in Ho Chi Minh City at 5.15 a.m. the same day.
The launch of the new route comes as Vietjet works to reactivate its Chinese network following the easing of travel restrictions from Jan. 8. In December, the LCC said it expects to fully resume its pre-crisis flight schedule to China from June 2023 and offer nearly 100 flights a day by the end of the year.