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Vietnam Is Getting a New Budget Airline, Bamboo Airways, This Year

The new FLC Group-owned airline will begin operations in Vietnam by the end of the year.

Bamboo Airways will service key domestic tourist cities such as Nha Trang as well as offer international routes throughout East Asia including to China, Singapore, Thailand and Japan and eventually Europe and North America, reports Dan Tri. A company spokesman revealed that tickets will be slightly higher than VietJet and the company will position itself as a competitor to that airline as well as Vietnam Airlines.

Vietnam’s aviation industry is the third-fastest growing market in the world, with recent demand having increased by 20% per year. By 2035 it is expected to serve 150 million passengers. The move to establish Bamboo Airways was announced back in June 2017 by FLC Group.

While experts agree with Bamboo Airways CEO Nguyen Ngoc Trong that the market is large enough to support another carrier, they caution about the difficulties in attracting well-trained staff and dealing with poor airport infrastructure.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam estimates the country will need 2,680 pilots by 2020, which is 1,320 more than today. Most pilots require oversea training which can cost approximately VND1.7 billion (US$72,000) per individual.

Bamboo Airways began its recruitment plan this month, aiming to hire 92 pilots and 500 other employees. In preparation for the launch, Bamboo Airways has signed a contract with Airbus to eventually buy up to 50 aircraft from Airbus in the next several years. Experts predict that in the next few years, Vietnam will be home to two to three times as many aircraft as today.

Bamboo Airways aims to be profitable by its second year, though several cautionary tales litter the recent past of Vietnam’s aviation industry. Numerous new airlines have failed here recently, including Indochina Airlines which still owes VND30 billion (US$1.31 million) in debt, while Air Mekong also owes VND26 billion (US$1.14 million).

Trong said he plans to avoid their mistakes of targeting the wrong customers and poorly selected aircraft, adding that the company will "try not to repeat the same mistakes and aim to bring 10 planes into operation every year."

[Photo via Nguoi Dua Tin]


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