LookAtVietnam - Mekong Aviation is completing hectic preparations for its first commercial flight, slated for October 2010, while Jetstar Pacific is trying to expand its market share.
According to Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper, Mekong Aviation, a private airline, has decided that it will take the first commercial flight on October 10, 2010. The information is good news for Vietnam’s aviation market.
Believing that it cannot confront airlines that have experience and a certain market share, Mekong Aviation has decided to exploit the ‘niche market’: the airline will fly domestic air routes with Bombardier CRJ 900 jets. Its air routes will be Hanoi-Phu Quoc island, HCM City-Phu Quoc island with four flights per week and also Hanoi-HCM City. At this moment, other airlines do not want to fly Hanoi-Phu Quoc, because Phu Quoc only has a small airport capable of receiving aircraft with less than 100 seats. Only Vietnam Airlines can meet the requirement because it has ATR and Forker aircraft.
As such, right when it joins the market, Mekong Aviation will have an advantage. Another advantage is in aircraft. Bombardier CRJ 900 has 95 seats that flies more smoothly and more quickly than propeller-driven planes.
Mekong Aviation is the first Vietnamese airline to use the Bombardier, chartering them from US SkyWest. SkyWest will also provide the maintenance service.
Tuoi Tre newspaper quoted Vo Huy Cuong, Head of the Aviation Transport Department under the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV), as saying that SkyWest is preparing to buy 30 percent of stakes of Mekong Aviation.
If the purchase is accepted by the Ministry of Transport, this will be the third Vietnamese airline that has sold stakes to foreign partners, after Jetstar Pacific Airlines, and VietJet Air.
It is expected that in August, Mekong Aviation will receive its first aircraft. To date, the air carrier has fulfilled three out of the five steps needed to apply for AOC (air operator’s certificate).
The budget airline Jetstar Pacific is also planning to expand its market share after a long period of coping with the economic downturn. Under an agreement with foreign partner Qantas, by 2014, the airline will put 10 Airbus A320-A321s into operation to improve flight capacity. The first A320 will be delivered in October 2010.
The airline’s fleet now includes five Boeing 747s and one Airbus A321. Jetstar Pacific’s foreign partner cooperates in training pilots and technical teams and has committed to long-term investment in Vietnam.
According to Cuong from CAAV, while Indochina Airlines is facing license revocation, the fact that Mekong Aviation is preparing to take off and Jetstar Pacific is trying to increase its capacity will help the aviation market increase transport capacity.
With a growth rate of nearly 20 percent per annum, travel demand is very high, and the three currently operational airlines cannot meet the demand, especially at peak times.
In order to take-off in October, Mekong Aviation will have to open its ticket sale system by August at the latest. It is expected that airfares will be equal or lower than the average airfare of Vietnam Airlines on the same air routes.
Source: Nguoi lao dong, Tuoi tre