SkyTeam and Vietnam Airlines signed a preliminary agreement today confirming the airline’s first step towards full membership into the SkyTeam alliance. The agreement outlines Vietnam Airlines’ intentions to undertake exclusive discussions to become a part of SkyTeam during the year 2010, pending fulfillment of the alliance’s membership requirements. The signing ceremony took place in Hanoi, Vietnam, and was attended by Mr. Ho Nghia Dung, Vietnam’s minister of transport; senior officials of the government; and ministries of Vietnam; as well as leaders of Vietnam Airlines and of SkyTeam.
“Vietnam Airlines will enhance SkyTeam’s network in southeast Asia, adding a number of new destinations throughout the region,” said Mr. Dominique Patry, SkyTeam steering committee chairman and senior vice president of International Affairs and Alliances, Air France. “Given its existing service to five alliance hubs and its broad international network, Vietnam Airlines is a strategic partner for the alliance.”
Vietnam Airlines operates 64 routes to 20 domestic and 24 international destinations with a young fleet of 50 modern aircraft, serving more than 9 million passengers annually to popular cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Melbourne, Moscow, Paris, Seoul, Sydney, and Tokyo. Vietnam Airlines will add 17 unique destinations to the SkyTeam network, including 14 cities in Vietnam. In 2006, Vietnam Airlines was officially accepted as a full member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“The agreement we signed today reaffirms Vietnam Airlines’ position as a major carrier in the southeast Asian region and marks a step forward in our efforts to become a strong global partner of SkyTeam,” said Dr. Pham Ngoc Minh, president and CEO of Vietnam Airlines. “Our cooperation will help develop SkyTeam and its member airlines, generating more benefits for our passengers and making greater contributions to the development of Vietnam.”
Currently, SkyTeam members China Southern and Korean Air have codeshare agreements with Vietnam Airlines, and Air France has engaged in strong bilateral cooperation with the airline.