SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — San Francisco International Airport was lit up in teal and gold Monday night to commemorate the first non-stop service between Vietnam and the United States. It’s another first for SFO as travel during COVID expands.

Airport and airline officials say growing demand from the Bay Area is making this possible.

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The check-in line for Vietnam Airlines inaugural flight from San Francisco to Ho Chi Minh City stretched to the entrance of the international terminal.

“I’ve been waiting for this service for over twenty years,” said Sang Nihn.

For Nhin, who runs a semiconductor business based in San Jose, the new route will open more opportunities.

“It’s for the American entrepreneurs who want to find and explore new businesses in Vietnam,” said Nhin.

“To connect cultures, connect families and business so we see this as a great opportunity. We know the people of the Bay Area are looking forward to traveling to Vietnam from the research we’ve done,” said SFO Airport Director Ivar Satero.

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The new service is twenty-four years in the making.

The airline will offer two flights a week to start, but plans to increase that number and expand to other cities in the country.

“It’s an amazing night to see that beautiful plane as I drove up I could see that plane from the freeway and my heart skipped. It really skipped,” said the San Francisco Mayor’s office Director of International Trade and Commerce.

The Bay Area has the second largest Vietnamese population in the country.

City leaders say the new route will increase business opportunities, academic exchanges, and promote tourism both to and from Ho Chi Minh City.

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San Francisco City Hall was also lit up in teal and gold to commemorate the first non-stop flight.