Vietnam Air plans first direct flight to Britain
Vietnam's flag carrier will fly to Britain starting in December, marking the first direct air link between the two nations which are expanding ties, the airline said in a statement.
State-owned Vietnam Airlines did not say how many flights would initially operate to London's Gatwick airport, or whether they would originate from Hanoi's Noi Bai airport or Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat.
Opening the link "expresses outstanding effort and high determination by Vietnam Airlines to promote the strong development of bilateral ties," chief executive officer Pham Ngoc Minh said in the statement issued late Sunday.
Vietnam and the United Kingdom last September signed a "Strategic Partnership" to boost ties in a range of areas including trade and investment, development and security.
Vietnam Airlines already serves European destinations in Paris, Frankfurt and Moscow.
The Southeast Asian carrier is looking to position itself as one of the region's leading airlines.
Last year it became the first in Southeast Asia to join the SkyTeam global airline alliance, which includes Air France and Delta Air Lines of the United States.
In late December Vietnam Airlines said it was expecting a pre-tax profit jump of 130 percent year-on-year to $17.5 million in 2010, thanks to improved passenger numbers.
© 2011 AFP