Vietravel Airlines cleared to take off in December

Leading tour company Vietravel has received the license for its airline and will operate its first flight in December.

If things go to plan Vietravel Airlines would start flying on December 18 instead of 2021 as originally planned, Nguyen Quoc Ky, chairman and founder of the company, said at an aviation business forum organized by Forbes Vietnam on Thursday.

The decision came as the Covid-19 pandemic forced the company to change its strategy and "wholly" focus on the domestic market, he said.

Vietravel expects to get delivery of three aircraft in the first year, and five more by the fifth year. It will mainly carry people booking its tours but also some commercial passengers, Ky said.

"We will fly domestically first, targeting the 100 million population market. In fact, it is not a small market. Our July domestic travel revenue is already much higher than before the pandemic."

But earlier the number of passengers had dropped in all three of the company’s tourism segments, inbound, outbound and domestic, he said.

Numbers were down 70 percent year-on-year in the first nine months, and revenues were 20-22 percent of last year’s, he said.

"I think the market situation will remain very difficult until the beginning of 2022. The international aviation market will likely only return by autumn next year."

It has received approval to operate both domestic and international flights.

It will be based at Phu Bai International Airport in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue. The company has said it hopes to carry at least one million passengers in the first year.

It already organizes charter flights, and will enter a fiercely competitive aviation market which already has six players: Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet, Jetstar Pacific, Vietnam Air Services Company (VASCO), Bamboo Airways, and the newly-licensed military-owned Vietstar Airlines.

The Covid-19 outbreak has hit all of them hard, forcing them to cancel all international flights and most domestic ones in the second and third quarters.

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