AirAsia’s Vietnam venture set to fly in August

By Dat Nguyen   December 10, 2018 | 08:09 pm PT
AirAsia’s Vietnam venture set to fly in August
An airline venture between AirAsia and Thien Minh Group is expected to start operations in August 2019. Photo by Reuters
A new Vietnam-based airline set up by Malaysian budget carrier AirAsia and a local company is expected to fly by next August.

Bloomberg quoted Tran Trong Kien, CEO of Hanoi-based resort ooperator Thien Minh Group, AirAsia’s partner, as saying applications for aviation licenses would be made next February and likely obtained in six months.

Vietnam will become the newest market for AirAsia, the largest low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia, which has affiliates in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Kien said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had expressed support for the airline, which has yet to be named.

The airline plans to deploy five or six Airbus SE A320 and A321 aircraft on domestic and regional routes, and expand the fleet to 30 within three years, he added.

Last week Thien Minh Group signed a memorandum of understanding with AirAsia for setting up the new airline with a capital of VND1 trillion ($44 million).

AirAsia will hold a 30 percent stake in it, and Thien Minh, 70 percent.

The new airline would be a direct competitor to Vietnam's budget carriers Vietjet Aviation and Jetstar Pacific, according to industry insiders.

Vietnam Airlines is currently the biggest airline in terms of passengers carried.

Bamboo Airways, owned by private corporation FLC, last month received a license and expects to make its maiden flight on December 29. It is allowed to operate 10 aircraft on domestic and international routes.

There are five carriers in Vietnam: Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, Bamboo Airways, Jetstar Pacific and VASCO. Vietnam Airlines owns VASCO and has a 70 percent stake in Jetstar Pacific.

Vietnam received 14.12 million foreigners in the first 11 months of the year, up 21.3 per cent year-on-year, according to the General Statistics Office. Eighty percent of foreign tourists arrive by air.

Vietnam's aviation market has averaged 17.4 percentage growth in the past decade, far higher than the 7.9 percent rate for the Asia-Pacific, according to the International Air Transport Association.

AirAsia almost struck a deal with Vietjet, but in 2010 the deal collapsed.

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