Air New Zealand has confirmed it will fly to Vietnam three times a week from next winter.

The airline will launch seasonal services to the country next June, catering to outbound Kiwi holiday makers.

Vietnam is growing in popularity as a holiday destination with the number of New Zealanders with more than 15,000 travelling there in the past year.

Air New Zealand's chief strategy, networks and alliance officer, Stephen Jones, said the airline would fly to Ho Chi Minh City in the south of the country from June to October.

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It will use its 767-300 aircraft and the flight time will be about 11 hours. The service will run from June to October with the possibility of extending the season in subsequent years.

"We'll offer a direct hassle free service," said Jones.

Air New Zealand is also about to start new direct services to Buenos Aires in Argentina and Houston in the United States before Christmas and is scoping another longhaul route in addition to Vietnam which it will announce soon.

Vietnam is not served by direct flights, is growing in popularity among Kiwi travellers. Amendments to an air services agreement with New Zealand signed earlier this year allowed for enhanced services.

Flight Centre general manager of product Sean Berenson said Asia was a real growth area for New Zealand travel.

"South East Asia in particular has long been popular with Kiwis and there would certainly be the demand to expand on the offering in this space."

Much like Thailand or Bali, Vietnam is becoming a go-to holiday spot for New Zealanders. At the moment, Vietnam seems to be more of an adventure destination.

House of Travel Commercial Director Brent Thomas said he was expecting the new flight route to be more skewed towards Kiwis travelling to Vietnam, as opposed to tourists entering New Zealand.

"Unlike parts of Australia such as Sydney and Melbourne, in New Zealand we don't have a large Vietnamese population. From our perspective, the new flight route from Air New Zealand isn't targeting those wanting to visit friends and family or travel for business purposes - it's a response to Vietnam's surge in popularity for Kiwi holidays," he said.

"This is supported by the fact that the new route is a seasonal service. If we estimate 700 seats per week are available over five months, we reckon we'll see around 10,000 Kiwis taking advantage of this new flight route and heading over to Vietnam."

Thomas says this new flight route was likely to open up more of Vietnam to compete with popular holiday destinations such as Thailand and Bali.

"Much like Thailand or Bali, Vietnam is becoming a go-to holiday spot for New Zealanders. At the moment, Vietnam seems to be more of an adventure destination. We believe the direct flight to Ho Chi Minh is likely to open up the central Vietnam beaches, to become more of a relaxation destination.

Vietnam fast facts:
Capital: Hanoi
Major language: Vietnamese
Major religion: Buddhism
Population: 88,772.9 as of April 2012
Currency: dong
Three quarters of its territory consist of mountains and hills
Motorbikes are a major form of transport
54 different ethnic groups in the country
6,660 Vietnamese reported to be living in New Zealand at 2013 census


Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said selecting Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam as a new international destination was in line with the airline's "Pacific Rim focus."

"Vietnam is an increasingly popular leisure destination with the number of Kiwis visiting the country up about 20 percent in the past year. It's a holiday spot that has huge appeal and we're confident that by offering a direct service even more Kiwis will be keen to explore it," he said. "Our entry point of Ho Chi Minh City in the south of Vietnam provides the ideal gateway for visitors to experience its diversity."

With the addition of services to Ho Chi Minh City, Air New Zealand will fly to 30 international destinations.

Tickets will go on sale ear early 2016, subject to government and regulatory approvals.

Air New Zealand currently code-shares on Singapore Airlines to just three destinations in Vietnam. The old rules meant Air NZ could not code-share to other Vietnamese destinations no longer faced these restrictions.

The number of New Zealanders heading to Vietnam grew from 12,400 in 2013 to 15,000 in the past year.