The latest entrant into Vietnam’s rapidly-growing commercial aviation scene has taken to the skies for the first time today (January 16). Bamboo Airways performed its long-awaited maiden flight, just a week after obtaining its air operators certificate (AOC) from the country’s civil aviation authority. The airline said it aims to “combine traditional and low-cost aviation to bring reasonable prices and quality service to optimise customer experience.”
Departing at 8.30am local time, the inaugural flight, QH202, operated by an Airbus A320, carried 180 passengers from Ho Chi Minh City/Tan Son Nhat to Hanoi/Noi Bai. On top of major Vietnamese hubs, the new company is targeting under-served domestic destinations including Quy Nhon/Phu Cat, Buon Ma Thuot, and Thanh Hoa.
Vietnam’s aviation sector is expanding rapidly, with passenger numbers on commercial aircraft leaping from 25 million in 2012 to 62 million last year. While there are rich pickings to be had in the growing market, Bamboo faces stiff competition from rival carriers VietJet, Jetstar Pacific, and flag carrier Vietnam Airlines. Meanwhile, the AirAsia Group is set to launch its own Vietnamese operation with local strategic partners in August this year.
Bamboo Airways currently has four aircraft, three A320-200s and one A321neo aircraft. In June last year, the firm signed letters of intent to purchase 24 A321neo aircraft from Airbus and 20 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft from Boeing with a total value of the two contracts at a list price of about US$8.8bn. The aircraft are scheduled to be delivered from April 2020 through 2021.
Research by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) projects Vietnam will in the global top five fastest-growing air travel markets over the next two decades.