Vietnam Airlines – 20 years on the wing hinh anh 1Vietnam Airlines aircraft. (Photo: VNA)

The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year (1995-2015), a major milestone in its journey to be a prominent airline both regionally and globally.

Vietnam Airlines has expanded its international partnership network by joining SkyTeam, the world’s second largest global airline alliance, in 2010 and signing code-share agreements with 21 airlines and a French national railway firm as well as special prorate agreements with 92 others by the end of last year, said Pham Viet Thanh, Chairman of the airline’s Director Board said.

Beginning with 25 international and 18 domestic routes in 1995, Vietnam Airlines now operates 57 international routes to 29 destinations alongside 37 domestic routes to 21 destinations.

The airline has served 1.39 million flights for about 160 million passengers, earning around 662 trillion VND (30.35 billion USD) in revenue thus far and paying over 30 trillion VND (1.37 billion USD) in taxes.

It expects to carry 17 million passengers this year, an eight-fold increase from 1995.

Joining the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as an official member in 2006, Vietnam Airlines has been awarded the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate, a strict safety standard set by the Aviation Quality Services (AQS) that it has maintained since then.

The carrier was ranked as a three-star airline by Skytrax—a United Kingdom-based research consultancy firm—in 2014 and event met more than 80 percent of 972 criteria for four-star or above.

According to Vietnam Airlines General Director Pham Ngoc Minh, the national flag carrier currently has 700 pilots, 1,100 qualified technicians and a fleet of 84 aircraft, compared to 25 jets back in 1995.

Vietnam Airlines welcomed Airbus A350-900 XWB, the newest member of Airbus’s wide-body family, and Boeing 787-9 aircraft on board in early July this year, making it the second airline in the world, after Qatar Airways, to own an Airbus A350-900 XWB and the first in the Pacific Asia to operate the two new generation jets at the same time.

The acquisitions are part of a plan to replace its old wide-body fleet, including 19 Boeing 787 and 14 Airbus A350 airliners, with the new models for long-haul services by mid-2019.

Coinciding with the roll out of brand new jets was the official launch of a brand-new corporate identity and four-star service upgrade, which extends to new uniforms, lounges, ticket offices, check-in counters, first-class foods and comfort kits among others.

Vietnam Airlines – 20 years on the wing hinh anh 2New uniforms launched as part of the carrier's four-star service upgrade. (Photo: Vietnam Airlines)

New services will also be introduced in the near future, including in-flight Wi-fi access.-VNA