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Bamboo Airways: the carrier with many “unknowns”

A lot of questions about Bamboo Airways, the newest airline in Vietnam, remain unanswered, from the quality of the fleet to the competitiveness of the air carrier.

Bamboo Airways plans to take off this year
Bamboo Airways plans to take off this year

Bamboo Airways, belonging to FLC Group, plans to provide the first commercial flight on October 10. However, observers say they are not sure the air carrier would take off as scheduled. Local newspapers still cannot contact Bamboo Airways to get an answer about the takeoff day.

Bamboo still has not got the air transport business license from the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV). It also still doesn’t have aircraft and cannot begin selling air tickets as planned.

However, everyone believes that Bamboo will fly, sooner or later. In the latest move, it has introduced to the public its brand identity and uniforms.

The question now is how Bamboo Airways will operate. Indochina Airlines and Air Mekong had to ‘give up the game’ in the past. What about Bamboo?

The young air carrier has set up an ambitious plan under which it will follow a hybrid model like JetBlue, Germanwings, Air Asia and EasyJet.

Flying with JetBlue, passengers can have leather-covered seats and TV screens, wifi and food. The prices are very competitive.

However, it’s still unclear if the air carrier can meet the quality standards once it plans to charter three aircraft from WWTAI AirOpCo II DAC and the aircraft are all 12 years old, or two times older than the aircraft of other airlines.

Regarding branding, while Vietjet has strong influence in building the image of a ‘bikini airline’, Bamboo Airways’ branding activities are unimpressive.

Bamboo is now focusing on its fleet. FLC’s chair Trinh Van Quyet affirmed that Bamboo will use tens of aircraft at the same time in its early operation. This is different from Vietjet, which began with only one aircraft in 2011.

In 2018, Bamboo wants to put 20 aircraft into use. The figures will soar to 60 by 2020 and 100 by 2022. The challenge for Bamboo is that it will have to squeeze into a market where all airlines plan to upgrade their fleets.

The bigger challenge for Bamboo is that under the PM’s decision, Bamboo could have 10 A320/321 or B737 aircrafts by 2020 only. It will have to wait for new regulations to be able to enlarge its fleets.

In addition, in order to have 11-30 aircraft, Bamboo will have to raise charter capital to over VND1 trillion from the current VND700 billion.

US$1=VND22,000