Air New Zealand will launch 3X-weekly service from Auckland International to Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from June 2016.

The flights will use Boeing 767-300 aircraft, on a direct 11-hour service, and come on the heels of a revamped air services agreement (ASA) signed between the two countries earlier this year that allowed expanded access and codeshare capacity.

Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon said Vietnam is part of the carrier’s focus on new Pacific Rim destinations, especially for expanding tourist destinations.

The new route will be the first New Zealand-Vietnam direct service, and will complement the carrier’s other imminent Pacific rim schedules to Houston and Buenos Aires in December 2015.

The Vietnam service will initially be operated over the June-October New Zealand winter season, but could be extended if the take-up is sufficient, the airline said.

“Vietnam is an increasingly popular leisure destination with the number of Kiwis visiting the country up about 20 percent in the past year,” Luxon said.

The flag carrier is also considering another Pacific Rim service with a direct Philippines schedule, said Air New Zealand strategy and networks spokesperson Stephen Jones, who described the Philippines as a “market of interest” for future expansion.