Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon announced in an interview with CAPA (Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation) that his airline will launch seasonal flights between Auckland and Ho Chi Minh City starting with the Northern hemisphere summer timetable. New Zealand national carrier plans to offer three weekly services with a Boeing 767-300 between June and October.It will be the first-ever air link between New Zealand and Vietnam. The airline offers already a similar seasonal service between Auckland and Bali.
The CEO believes that the market is likely to remain seasonal for some time. However, the long term objective would be to offer it on a year-round basis. However, the total number of New Zealanders is still to low to justify a year-round flight. In 2014, New Zealand travellers to Vietnam represented only slightly over 33,000 arrivals compared to 320,000 for Australians. In 2015, the market is slightly down (-4%) and should top around 31,500 arrivals for the entire year. They were only 7,000 Vietnamese travellers visiting New Zealand in 2013 but the opening of the flights is likely to boost significantly the flows of travellers in both directions.
So far, NZ travellers wishing to visit Vietnam need between 10 and 12 hours flight and transit time to arrive either in Saigon or Hanoi. Most NZ travellers would either transit in Australia or in Hong Kong, the shortest alternative air routes to Vietnam. The new non-stop flight will reduce flying times between both countries to eight hours.
Air NZ route to Ho Chi Minh City could attract a few transfer travellers out of Australia, mostly from Brisbane and Northern Queensland. Air New Zealand is now seeking to work with Vietnamese tourism authorities to promote the country in New Zealand and reciprocally promote New Zealand in Vietnam. The carrier is unlikely to face direct competition as Vietnam Airlines has no intention- so far- to launch a route to New Zealand, concentrating its capacity for Australia.