Vietnam-UK direct flights set to commence this fall

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Officials from the UK and Vietnam have concluded discussions to facilitate direct flights between the two countries to take off this autumn.

A British Embassy statement released Friday said successful  discussions were held in Hanoi between the UK Department for Transport, the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam and national carrier Vietnam Airlines.

It said direct air services will benefit both Vietnam and the UK by enabling increased bilateral trade and easier access for Vietnamese students to British education institutions, not to mention promoting cultural links ahead of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

"The confirmed details of this new route such as frequency and timings should emerge soon and I very much look forward to the anticipated launch of services in the autumn," said British Ambassador Antony Stokes. "This is an excellent opportunity for both our countries ahead of such events as the London 2012 Olympic Games."

Vietnam Airlines in April had announced plans to launch direct flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to London. Chief Executive Pham Ngoc Minh said that nearly 90,000 English tourists came to Vietnam in 2010, an increase of 28 percent over 2009.

Direct flights will also benefit the Vietnamese community in the UK, including 7,000 students and more than 40,000 others currently living and working there, he said.

The British Embassy said Vietnam Airlines plans to operate up to four services a week to London, twice from HCMC and twice from Hanoi. UK airlines are also considering commencing services, it said.

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