Vietnam Airlines this week launched direct flights between London and Vietnam’s two largest cities. The four weekly flights add UK to European destinations in Germany, Russia and France that are serviced by Vietnam’s state-owned airline — and again raise the question of why Europe is so far ahead of the US (to which Vietnam Airlines does not fly) in cultivating the fast-growing market in Vietnam, the world’s 13th most populous country.
The answer, of course, has something to do with the historical political, military and emotional attachment between Americans, Vietnamese, and especially Vietnamese Americans. Since the Vietnam War ended in the 1970s, Europeans — and their businesses — have bonded with Vietnam in ways that are paying dividends for multinationals like Germany-based Siemens, while America’s GEs are being left behind.
It’s true that many US corporations have larger fish to fry in Asia (China and India come to mind), but it’s also true that Americans are missing opportunities in Southeast Asia, not to mention direct flights there.