Air France, a founding member of the global aviation alliance SkyTeam, is working on a plan to resume full non-stop services between Paris and HCMC in November this year.
The European carrier plans three weekly services on the HCMC-Paris run, using Boeing 747-400 planes, then Boeing 777-300ER (Extended Range) as part of a new code-share agreement with the newly admitted SkyTeam member Vietnam Airlines.
Under the agreement, Air France proposes to its customers 13 frequencies per week from Vietnam to Paris. Besides its current daily services from Hanoi and HCMC to Paris, Air France’s customers will be able to board six weekly flights operated by Vietnam Airlines using the Air France code.
Air France announced more choices for passengers on the routes linking Paris and Vietnam at a time when the number of French visitors to Vietnam has been picking up steadily this year after a period of decline.
French arrivals in Vietnam in 2009 fell 4.1% over the year before to more than 174,500, but started to rebound since February this year with a year-on-year double-digit increase. Figures of the General Statistics Office show Vietnam attracted over 91,300 French travelers in the first five months of this year, up 10.5% from the same period last year.
The number of French visitors to Vietnam is expected to continue an upward trend toward the end of this year given major cultural and historical events, including Hue Festival in the former imperial capital of Hue earlier this month and the 1000th anniversary celebration of Thang Long-Hanoi in October.
Air France and Vietnam Airlines will jointly run the routes, with six return flights between Paris and Hanoi and seven return flights between Paris and HCMC from July 3 to October 30, 2010.
Vietnam Airlines will conduct six of the 13 flights using the Air France code, including three for HCMC and three for Hanoi. The flagship carrier of Vietnam now has weekly direct flights between the two countries.
The code-share agreement enables Vietnam Airlines to fly six times a week between Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC and Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, and five weekly services between Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi and Paris as from November 2010.
Vietnam Airlines now offers a round-trip fare to Paris from US$812 excluding taxes and surcharges. This economy-class fare applies to the tickets issued on June 30 at the latest for travel between now and July 14, 2010.
Currently, Air France has seven flights via Bangkok to Hanoi and HCMC. An economy-class two-way ticket booked at www.airfrance.com.vn starts from US$89 for the trip to Bangkok and from US$850 to Paris.
Air France has been active on the existing routes to Hanoi and HCMC since 2005 when the airline terminated a code-share pact with Vietnam Airlines for non-stop weekly flights to Vietnam to concentrate on other Asian routes.
New opportunities have opened for both carriers when the global air travel demand is rebounding and especially after Vietnam Airlines became a full member of SkyTeam earlier this month.
Air France said in a statement that the framework of Skyteam would bring new opportunities to the two airlines to further enhance their cooperation.