Vietnamese carrier Bamboo Airways will be launching its direct flight between Hanoi and Prague in March. Bamboo Airways is the first Vietnamese carrier to link Vietnam and the Czech Republic. The airline received permission from the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) this week to begin operating the flight route next month.
Vietnam’s newest carrier is about to be the first carrier in the country’s history to link Vietnam directly to the Czech Republic. Flights will commence on 29 March with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner operating two flights a week. Tickets are now on sale in Vietnam and will go on sale to the rest of the world next week. Prices start from $195.
The flight from Hanoi will take approximately 11 hours and 20 minutes. The return flight is slightly shorter at 10 hours and 20 minutes. Currently, anyone wishing to travel on this route has to take connecting flights with an average journey time of between 14 and 19 hours.
There are over 80,000 Vietnamese nationals living in the Czech Republic, so the airline is relying on demand stimulated by this to sell seats on its new route. But the route is about more than just Prague. The Vietnamese Ambassador in the Czech Republic said that “this route not only aims to connect Vietnam with the Czech Republic but also connects Southeast Asia with the European Union”.
Vietnam also has one of the largest growing aviation markets in the Asia Pacific region. Experts predict that the market will grow by 9.5% between 2016 and 2021. Bamboo Airways is only a year old having commenced operations in January 2019 but it has already operated 20,000 flights carrying over 3 million passengers. That’s an impressive start, particularly in a year that saw more airlines go bankrupt than any previous year.
Competition in Asia
Although bamboo Airways is so far very successful, its about to have some competition for its new Prague route. Malaysian Airline Air Asia has announced its intentions to launch a budget flight to Prague from Bangkok later this year. Flights from Kuala Lumpur will launch to Prague in 2021.
But Air Asia doesn’t just have its sights set on Prague. Air Asia X, the long-haul branch, is looking to connect Southeast-Asia are to Europe with further flights to London, Barcelona and Vienna among other destinations. With Air Asia banking on Australian travelers changing in Kuala Lumpur to help support its flights in Europe, they may have a bigger demand than Bamboo Airways.
One to watch
Bamboo Airways’ initial success was built on its strong regional offerings within Vietnam. This was followed by its smart expansion with international flights to Taipei and Seoul. It has become one of the most exciting new airlines in the world. But how will it cope when it starts to compete against other established carriers for more popular routes?
The airline has 24 A321neo on order to develop its regional and short-haul routes and another 20 787s on order for international expansion. That’s a huge number of aircraft for a new airline and delivery is expected soon.
As the airline expands, it will no doubt come face to face with more competition like Air Asia. It will be interesting to see how it fares when it comes to international routes. The airline clearly still has plans to develop a greater regional network which it developed to great success in 2019.
Perhaps it will use this success to undercut any hiccups which may occur as it expands around the world. Or perhaps it will find it is best suited to the shorter, more localized routes. Either way, it’s definitely one of the more exciting airlines to watch in the coming year.