Bamboo ready to sprout routes

HANOI, 12 December 2018: Vietnam’s newest airline, Bamboo Airways, says it intends to fly its first domestic service, 29 December.

The first flight according to local news reports will depart Hanoi for the resort town of Quy Nhon where the airline’s parent company operates a hotel.

Vietnam’s fifth airline is finalising launch details just days after AirAsia confirmed it would enter a joint venture to start an airline in Vietnam. That would give Vietnam six airlines and increase pressure on the country’s successful low-cost airline Vietjet.

In reports earlier this year, wire services quoted the owner saying the first priority was to connect main cities to domestic destinations that are not served by competitors

The first international flights will likely serve South Korea and Japan in the second or third quarter of 2019. Korea and Japan are the second and third largest supply markets for tourism to Vietnam.

Bamboo Airways will launch at a time when tourism is growing by more than 20% and airlines are enjoying double-digit growth in passenger traffic.

Also, the government recently extended its visa-free facility for six European nationalities.

It is understood the start-up airline has now obtained an air operator’s certificate opening the way for the planned 29 December launch and in time to cash in on peak season traffic January and February.

According to airline sources it can operate 10 aircraft on both domestic and international routes, but long-term the business plan outlines 100 routes connecting domestic points and serving international routes linked to tourism.

Established in 2017 with a charter capital of USD30.8 million, Bamboo Airways will make Quy Nhon’s Phu Cat Airport its home base.

According to earlier news reports the airline plans to have a fleet of 30 planes and has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus for 24 A321s and has an order on the books for 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, worth USD 8.6 billion at list prices, scheduled for delivery from April 2020.

Meanwhile, Malaysia-based AirAsia and Vietnamese firm Hai Au Aviation agreed last week to launch a joint-venture low-cost airline.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes andVietnamese businessman Tran Trong Kien, CEO of Hai Au Aviation, signed a memorandum of understanding. Flights could start as early as August 2019.

In April 2017, AirAsia Investment signed an initial agreement with Hai Au Aviation, Gumin Co. Ltd and businessman TranTrong Kien to set up a joint venture in Vietnam.

At the time Bloomberg reported the venture would require an investment of VND1 trillion (USD44 million), with AirAsia contributing 30% and the Vietnamese partner 70%.

This latest joint venture will give Vietnam its sixth airline joining Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, Jetstar Pacific, VASCO and Bamboo Airways (still not operational).

AirAsia operates 141 return flights weekly on 13 routes – including six unique routes – connecting Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc with Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bharu in Malaysia, Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand and Manila in the Philippines and has carried 12 million passengers to and from Vietnam since entering the market in 2005.

Vietnam received 14.12 million foreigners in the first 11 months of the year, up 21.3%  year-on-year and exceeding last year’s 12.9 million, according to the General Statistics Office.