Vietnamese airline Bamboo Airways landed its first direct flight to Australia on Sunday morning ahead of a regular service launching next year.
The 787-9 Dreamliner, VN-A818 (msn 62735), departed Hanoi as QH9088 at 7:39pm on 5 September and landed the next morning in Melbourne at 7:57am.
Shortly after, it departed on a 10-hour repatriation flight back to Vietnam with nearly 300 Vietnamese citizens on-board, who had been studying or working in Australia.
Melbourne Airport’s chief of aviation, Shane O’Hare said, “We look forward to strengthening our relationship with the airline and enhancing our non-stop service to Vietnam on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner in 2021, including to Hanoi for the first time, which opens up critical trade, leisure and business opportunities for Victoria.”
Bamboo Airways deputy general director Nguyen Ngoc Trong said the flight would serve as “an important step to accumulate practical flight experience and help the business develop a regular direct route into operation in 2021”.
Melbourne Airport is still not accepting flights carrying Australian citizens, as the city has paused its hotel quarantine system in the light the second wave of coronavirus cases.
On Monday, Australian Aviation reported that the chief executive of Melbourne Airport suggested Australia shouldn’t wait for a vaccine to open its international borders.
Lyell Strambi said in previously unreported comments that the country must “plan to live sustainably with the virus”.
“We cannot be sure when or if a vaccine will be available,” said Strambi. “We can’t even be sure how many among our community will access it once it arrives. It’s hardly a foundation for economic recovery.”
His comments jar with those made hours later by acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge, who appeared to suggest Australian borders may only open to the world when a vaccine becomes “globally available”.