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Vietravel Airlines Commences Commercial Operations
According to a 2020 report by the Airports Council International, Vietnam is one of the fastest-growing aviation sectors worldwide. Vietnam’s aviation industry has seen many new entrants in recent years, including notable upstart Bamboo Airways. The nation, however, got a new player on Monday, as Vietravel Airlines commenced commercial operations on Jan. 25.
The first commercial flight for Vietravel Airlines was flight VU301 from Ho Chi Minh City to Pho Quoc, an island known for its pristine beaches. Previously, the airline had launched charter flights to select destinations across Vietnam, including flights from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi to Nha Trang, Pho Quoc and Quy Nhon — three coastal cities. These charters started earlier this year on Jan. 7.
The airline started ticket sales on Jan. 19, offering free tickets — excluding taxes and fees — for its first 50,000 passengers to raise awareness for the airline.
Preliminarily, the airline’s route network consists of dual bases in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. From Ho Chi Minh City, the Hue-based carrier serves Da Nang, Hanoi, Nha Trang and Pho Quoc. From Hanoi, Vietravel serves Ho Chi Minh City and Pho Quoc, with more flights to Hue and Da Nang launching on Jan. 27 and Feb. 1. These routes are all served daily or twice daily.
What Is Vietravel Airlines?
Vietravel Airlines is the subsidiary of Vietravel, one of the largest tour operators in Vietnam. The airline was approved to be established in April 2020 by the prime minister of Vietnam, later receiving its Aircraft Operator Certificate in December.
Vietravel CEO Vu Duc Bien has stated that Vietravel is a hybrid carrier, incorporating aspects of a low-cost-carrier and a traditional full-service carrier. The ticket prices it will offer will, according to its goals, be a medium between another hybrid/full-service carrier in Bamboo Airways, and VietJet, which is an ultra-low-cost carrier. Vietravel Airlines will focus on leisure traffic.
Currently, the airline has three Airbus A321-200’s with 220 seats in an all-economy seating format. Two of them are former Condor birds, while one is a former KC International Airlines aircraft, according to planespotters.net. On its delivery list, the airline will receive a former Arkia Airbus A321LR, which will be the only A321LR operated by a Vietnamese airline. In its second year of operations, the airline will expand to eight aircraft, with plans to expand to thirty in the future.
In the future, Vietravel Airlines will expand to more domestic destinations like Can Tho, Da Lat, Hai Phong and Quy Nhon. Additionally, it plans to expand to destinations in Northeast and Southeast Asia. Some destinations could include Bangkok, Seoul and Tokyo.
Vietnam’s Aviation Industry
Vietravel Airlines is the sixth airline to enter what has quickly become a heavily competitive national aviation market. Currently, Vietnam’s aviation sector consists of three major airlines: Vietnam Airlines Group, Bamboo Airways and VietJet Air.
Vietnam Airlines Group consists of a further three airlines: Vietnam Airlines, Pacific Airlines and VASCO. Vietnam Airlines is the flag carrier of Vietnam and has been the largest airline for decades. However, Vietnam Airlines and its low-cost subsidiary Pacific Airlines — formerly Jetstar Pacific — are under heavy assault from low-cost peer VietJet Air due to its low fares.
According to figures from the Civil Aviation Authority in Vietnam, VietJet became the largest airline in Vietnam in 2019, totaling 42.2% of the country’s market share. The low-cost airline is focused on domestic and medium-haul international flights in Northeast and Southeast Asia, similar to Vietravel Airlines. However, VietJet is well-positioned to continue its reign as the nation’s top carrier with 120 A321NEO’s and 200 Boeing 737 MAXs incoming for the carrier in the next few years.
With long-haul flights, Vietnam Airlines is facing increasing pressure from Bamboo Airways. Bamboo Airways is planning on launching flights to Australia, destinations in Europe including the Czech Republic and also North America. Additionally, Bamboo Airways is placing regional carrier VASCO under threat with the introduction of the Embraer E195 to one of its bases in Can Dao. Currently, Bamboo is the third largest airline in Vietnam.
Vietravel Airlines is hoping it will be able to find opportunities in a competitive market. Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh is currently the fourth busiest domestic corridor worldwide, with 10 million passengers flying the route annually, according to OAG. Additionally, with its tour company parent Vietravel feeding it traffic, Vietravel Airlines should be in a position to succeed in one of the fastest-growing markets in the world.
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