Vietnam’s skies may have yet another startup airline


HANOI • Vietnam is on course to have its sixth domestic airline after tour operator Vietravel said it plans to start a carrier as potential rival Bamboo Airways yesterday began its first flights in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets.

Vietravel Airlines would be based in the central province of Thua Thien Hue and compete in a market already served by five domestic carriers, according to Saigon Times, which cited Vietravel CEO Nguyen Quoc Ky. AirAsia Group Bhd, meanwhile, plans to begin operations of is Vietnam carrier with its local partner in August.

Vietnam’s swelling middle class and population of about 100 million offers continued growth in the domestic aviation market, Ky said in the newspaper report. And Vietnam’s booming tourism industry provides additional growth, he said. Last year, 15.5 million foreign tourists came to Vietnam, a near 20% jump from 2017, according to government data.

The airline would operate only chartered flights and make use of “available resources from current carriers for transport services”, Ky said in a text message.

The nation’s economy, expanding at about 7%, is giving Vietnamese more disposable income to fly. Vietnam’s airports in 2018 handled 106 million passengers, a climb of about 13% over the previous year, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam. Vietnamese carriers flew more than 50 million passengers, a 14% surge from 2017.