Vietnam Airlines became a member of SkyTeam Alliance today, paving the way for the Vietnamese national carrier to gain more international traffic.

At a ceremony in Hanoi today, Vietnam Airlines was officially made a member of the alliance, says SkyTeam.

This move comes just weeks after China Eastern Airlines announced it plans to join SkyTeam by mid-2011.

Richard Anderson, CEO of SkyTeam member carrier Delta Air Lines, says: "The addition of Vietnam's leading airline to SkyTeam positions our alliance as the fastest growing in Asia and builds on the planned addition of China Eastern." Asian carriers Korean Air and China Southern Airlines are also SkyTeam members.

Vietnam Airlines' international services are mostly to Asian and European destinations, but next year it plans to launch services to the USA.

Anderson at Delta says Vietnam Airlines in mid-July will start placing its code on Delta flights between Tokyo Narita and points in the USA.

"By the end of this year, Delta passengers will have the ability to connect on a single codeshare ticket from cities throughout Delta's network in Vietnam," he adds.

"Over time, SkyTeam's addition of Vietnam Airlines will introduce 20 new destinations not offered by any alliance member today," says SkyTeam.

"Vietnam Airlines currently serves the SkyTeam hubs in Beijing, Guangzhou, Paris, Seoul and Tokyo," it adds.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news