After the launch date had been postponed twice because of regulatory hurdles, Vietnamese budget carrier Bamboo Airways launched its long-delayed maiden commercial flight last week with an Airbus A319 flight between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to become the country’s fifth airline.
Other local airlines already operating are Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific Airlines, Vietjet Aviation and Vietnam Air Services Co, while Malaysia-based AirAsia Group plans to start operations
of is Vietnam carrier with its local partner in August this year.
Vietravel Airlines on the horizon
Bamboo Airways’ inaugural flight coincided with the announcement by tour operator Vietravel that it plans to launch yet another domestic airline in one of the world's fastest-growing aviation markets. Vietravel Airlines would be based in the central province of Thua Thien Hue.
A report in the Saigon Times quoted Vietravel chief executive Nguyen Quoc Ky as saying that the airline would operate only chartered flights and make use of "available resources from current carriers for transport services."
Last year, 15.5 million foreign tourists came to Vietnam, a near 20 percent jump from 2017, according to government data and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts Vietnam
will be among the world's top five fastest-growing air travel markets in the next 20 years. The route between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is already the world's sixth-busiest in terms of passenger
numbers last year, according to IATA.
Bamboo has ambitions fleet plans
Meanwhile, Bamboo Airways said it expects to fly on 37 domestic routes this year and also launch international flights to Asian countries, starting with Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
The airline, owned by hotel and leisure firm FLC Group, signed a provisional deal in July last year to buy 20 Boeing 787-9 wide-body jets worth US$5.6 billion at list prices, and a memorandum of understanding in March with Airbus for up to 24 A320neo narrow-bodied aircraft.
Nol van Fenema