AirAsia to finally set up airline in Vietnam

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AirAsia Group, the largest low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia, said December 6 that it has agreed with a partner in Vietnam to launch a domestic airline next year in order to gain a footprint in the fastest growing air travel market in the region.

AirAsia has signed a memorandum of cooperation for a Vietnamese joint venture with Thien Minh Travel, a unit of tourism group Thien Minh Group that AirAsia previously tapped as its local partner in April 2017.

A joint statement from AirAsia and the Thien Minh Group reaffirmed their intentions to launch the carrier, but gave no details of the memorandum’s contents, nor any mention of the joint venture’s proposed launch date, fleet composition and route network yet.

“AirAsia is an ASEAN airline,” said the group’s CEO Tony Fernandes.

“And in ASEAN, Vietnam is one of the last remaining countries with a large population we’re not in. Today’s memorandum reaffirms our commitment to making AirAsia in Vietnam happen. We remain incredibly bullish about serving one of the most dynamic, fastest-growing economies in Asia,” he added.

He stated that an announcement would be forthcoming, but that he could not provide further details.

“AirAsia is already the largest foreign airline group in Vietnam in terms of capacity,” Fernandes said, adding that the airline currently operated flights to five destinations in Vietnam. The low-cost carrier currently operates 141 return flights weekly on 13 routes, connecting Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc with Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bharu in Malaysia, Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand and Manila in the Philippines.

Thien Minh Group offers high-end tourism using its seaplanes connecting Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, as well as cruises traveling the Mekong Delta. The private company operates a chain of hotels and resorts in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia that host more than 200,000 guests annually, with plans to add two facilities each year.

The Thien Minh Group joint venture represents AirAsia’s third attempt to crack Vietnam. In 2007 it attempted to form a joint venture with state-owned shipbuilder Vinashin, but was blocked by Hanoi. Then, in 2010, it received approval to take a 30-per cent stake in as-then unlaunched carrier VietJet Air. That deal lapsed one year later, after facing significant backlash from the government and Vietnam Airlines.

AirAsia’s plans for Vietnam come as another carrier, Bamboo Airways just received its air operator certificate. This ambitious carrier, a member of the FLC Group, plans to start services on December 29, but it has missed several hoped-for launch dates. It also lays claim to strong political backing.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

AirAsia Group, the largest low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia, said December 6 that it has agreed with a partner in Vietnam to launch a domestic airline next year in order to gain a footprint in the fastest growing air travel market in the region.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

AirAsia Group, the largest low-cost carrier in Southeast Asia, said December 6 that it has agreed with a partner in Vietnam to launch a domestic airline next year in order to gain a footprint in the fastest growing air travel market in the region.

AirAsia has signed a memorandum of cooperation for a Vietnamese joint venture with Thien Minh Travel, a unit of tourism group Thien Minh Group that AirAsia previously tapped as its local partner in April 2017.

A joint statement from AirAsia and the Thien Minh Group reaffirmed their intentions to launch the carrier, but gave no details of the memorandum’s contents, nor any mention of the joint venture’s proposed launch date, fleet composition and route network yet.

“AirAsia is an ASEAN airline,” said the group’s CEO Tony Fernandes.

“And in ASEAN, Vietnam is one of the last remaining countries with a large population we’re not in. Today’s memorandum reaffirms our commitment to making AirAsia in Vietnam happen. We remain incredibly bullish about serving one of the most dynamic, fastest-growing economies in Asia,” he added.

He stated that an announcement would be forthcoming, but that he could not provide further details.

“AirAsia is already the largest foreign airline group in Vietnam in terms of capacity,” Fernandes said, adding that the airline currently operated flights to five destinations in Vietnam. The low-cost carrier currently operates 141 return flights weekly on 13 routes, connecting Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc with Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bharu in Malaysia, Bangkok and Chiang Mai in Thailand and Manila in the Philippines.

Thien Minh Group offers high-end tourism using its seaplanes connecting Hanoi and Ha Long Bay, as well as cruises traveling the Mekong Delta. The private company operates a chain of hotels and resorts in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia that host more than 200,000 guests annually, with plans to add two facilities each year.

The Thien Minh Group joint venture represents AirAsia’s third attempt to crack Vietnam. In 2007 it attempted to form a joint venture with state-owned shipbuilder Vinashin, but was blocked by Hanoi. Then, in 2010, it received approval to take a 30-per cent stake in as-then unlaunched carrier VietJet Air. That deal lapsed one year later, after facing significant backlash from the government and Vietnam Airlines.

AirAsia’s plans for Vietnam come as another carrier, Bamboo Airways just received its air operator certificate. This ambitious carrier, a member of the FLC Group, plans to start services on December 29, but it has missed several hoped-for launch dates. It also lays claim to strong political backing.

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