Thu, Jan 17, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Vietnam’s Bamboo airline takes flight

AFP, HANOI

Bamboo Airways flight attendants walk past one of the company’s aircraft at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, Vietnam, yesterday.

Photo: Bloomberg

Vietnam’s newest commercial carrier, Bamboo Airways, yesterday took flight, officially entering Southeast Asia’s crowded aviation sector where it faces stiff competition from established players.

Air travel in the region has boomed in the past few years as appetites — and budgets — for travel have soared among spendthrift flyers. Bamboo is hoping to tap into the saturated market by offering routes to lesser-known destinations in Vietnam that are underserved by heavy-hitters such as Vietnam Airlines and budget carrier Vietjet.

“Bamboo Airways will become a five-star airline to serve domestic and international passengers,” Bamboo owner Trinh Van Quyet said at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport after the inaugural flight landed from Ho Chi Minh City yesterday morning.

Born poor in northern Vinh Phuc Province, Quyet is best known for building FLC Group, a real-estate empire that has built luxury hotels, golf courses and condominiums and is the parent company of Bamboo.

The property tycoon said in an interview last year that he hopes to offer customers integrated travel packages to his resorts, but analysts have warned that travelers are moving away from package deals.

Bamboo would operate eight domestic routes daily, with plans to fly from Hanoi to Japan, South Korea and Singapore later this year and eventually to Europe.

Vietnam’s aviation sector is surging, with passenger numbers jumping to 62 million last year from 25 million in 2012.

Regional and domestic airlines are scrambling to keep up with that growth as Vietnam’s airports strain to accommodate an increasing number of flights and passengers.

National carrier Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet, infamous for its bikini-clad air hostesses, dominate international and domestic travel.

Bamboo is not the only carrier looking to edge into the sector. Last month, Malaysian budget airline AirAsia signed an agreement with a Vietnamese travel company to launch a low-cost carrier in Vietnam, although a timeline for takeoff was not provided.

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