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New Vietnamese airline ready to fly

Bamboo Airways chairman Trinh Van Quyet speaks with a reporter at his office in Hanoi. (Reuters Photo)

HANOI: Vietnam's newest airline, Bamboo Airways, has confirmed that it will start commercial flights on Wednesday after repeated delays.

The carrier has set minimum ticket prices at 149,000 dong (IUS$6.40) each. It said it would initially operate 37 domestic routes but plans later this year to add international flights to Asian countries, starting with Japan, Korea and Singapore.

The local hotel and leisure company FLC Group, which owns Bamboo Airways, will be competing in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets against state-owned Vietnam Airlines and the budget carrier VietJet Aviation. The new carrier’s website also carries promotions for its parent’s resort properties.

The International Air Transport Association forecasts Vietnam will be among the world’s five fastest-growing air travel markets in the next 20 years. The route between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City is already the world’s sixth-busiest in terms of passenger numbers last year, according to IATA.

Bamboo Airways will initially use 20 leased narrow-body and wide-body aircraft, the carrier has said. FLC agreed to buy 24 Airbus A321neo planes worth $3.2 billion at list price for Bamboo Airways. In June, it signed a commitment for 20 Boeing twin-aisle 787-9 Dreamliners with a list price of $5.6 billion.

Vietnam’s airports in 2018 handled 106 million passengers, a 12.9% increase over the previous year, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam. The country’s carriers flew more than 50 million passengers, a 14% jump from 2017.

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