Isn’t strange how rumours about an airline or in fact any product can be very different to reality.
The reason I say that is that when I said to industry colleagues that I was flying with Vietnam Airlines to Ho Chi Minh City, either that elicited no comment or some people responded with raised eye brows and a good luck wish!
The interesting part is though that when I asked them if they had flown Vietnam Airlines they said no, but added that they had heard it was not very good!
I thought that a tad strange as I had heard good things about Vietnam Airlines, so I was keen to find out more on my flights to Vietnam and give Vietnam Airlines a fair go!
My experience was one of an excellent world class airline, with great equipment, offering much that other airlines offer, with great service and great food with a Vietnamese flavour so that you felt that you were in Vietnam, great wines, great seats and entertainment – although the on demand videos in Business were not working on the aircraft on the way back, much as the purser tried and tried and apologised profusely.
OK, I have to say that while I flew Business there and back and it was excellent, with great nearly flat seats, but before you say anything, I did spend some considerable time in economy on the return flight and while there were no seat back videos with entertainment on screens, the seats were comfortable, the food was good, the service was excellent, with more flight attendants on the flight than I remember in other economy sections recently.
At the end of the day Vietnam Airlines is not some recent start up, having stated operations in January 1956, with only five IL-14, AN-2, Aero-45aircraft, starting domestic flights in September 1956.
Between 1976 and 1980 Vietnam Airlines continued to grow offering flights to Laos, Cambodia, China, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore, becoming a member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
In April 1993 Vietnam Airlines was officially named the country’s national flag carrier and in May 1996, the Vietnam Airlines Corporation was created bringing together twenty aviation businesses and the airline itself into one business.
In 2002, Vietnam Airlines introduced the new Golden Lotus logo and corporate identity, which the airline says represented a complete repositioning and brand strategy of Vietnam Airlines, coupled with significant improvements in its infrastructure, operations and fleet.
In 2003, the airline received delivery of its first own “state-of-the-art” B777 , which was major step in the airline’s fleet modernization and within three years, Vietnam Airlines had one of the most modern fleets in the region.
Growing at over 10% per annum for over 15 years, except in 1997 during the Asian financial crisis broke out, Vietnam Airlines is now without question a major competitor in the Asian aviation market, operating an up to date fleet of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, with an extensive professional training programme and interestingly, a number of Australian pilots working for the airline.
Today Vietnam Airlines’ network extends to 20 cities throughout the country and 40 international destinations in the USA, Europe, Australia and Asia (including code-share services) and in 2006, after being awarded the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate, a strict safety standard set by Aviation Quality Services (AQS), Vietnam Airlines joined the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as an official member, affirming its international standard.
In 2007, Vietnam Airlines along with the Vietnam Aircraft Leasing Company, which Vietnam Airlines was the initiator and founder, signed orders for 12 Boeing B787s, 10 Airbus A350-900, 20 Airbus A321 and 5 ATR72-500 aircraft, with the airline expected to reach 104 and 150 up to date aircraft in 2015 and 2020, respectively.
Now if that is not a world class carrier, then I don’t know what is, with my first hand experience on two international and two domestic sectors being a pretty good test, which Vietnam Airlines passed with flying colours, proving to me at least that Vietnam Airlines is most definitely a world class carrier!
Go Vietnam Airlines!
I also took the opportunity while at ITE HCMC 2010 to meet up with Mr Luong Le Vinh, who works in Passenger Sales and Marketing in the airline’s Southern Regional Office to learn more about Vietnam Airlines and to hear what he had to say please click on the video box below.
For more information www.vietnamairlines.com
John Alwyn-Jones, e-Travel Blackboard Special Correspondent on location from ITE 2010, Ho Chi Minh City
Source = e-Travel Blackboard: J.A.J.