Vietnam Airlines Joins Skyteam Alliance, Plans Expansion to U.S. and U.K. Markets Ahead of IPO

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Jun. 14 – Vietnam Airlines is planning to expand routes to the west coast of the United States and is also looking into direct flights to the United Kingdom said the carrier’s CEO, Pham Ngoc Minh.

Speaking to the BBC, the executive officer said that he thought the expansion program would be completed by the first half of next year. Currently Vietnam Airlines flies to three European cities in France, Germany and Russia.

In related news, Vietnam Airlines joined the Skyteam Alliance last Thursday as the national flag carrier looks to expand its network of destinations and cut operating costs. The Skyteam Alliance includes Aeroflot, the Air France-KLM Group and China Southern Airlines.

The carrier expects to see sales increase to US$1.7 billion in 2010, up from US$1.29 billion in 2009 and plans to expand its fleet of aircraft to 115 by 2015 and to 165 by 2020, compared with 70 by the year-end.

The company is still in the process of preparing its initial public offering and finding foreign partners, Pham said on Thursday, without going into details about when it would sell shares or the names of any prospective partners.