In a newly-released official document at the 2019 general shareholders meeting, FLC Group, which owns Bamboo Airways, confirmed that the country’s fifth airline is speeding up its plan for launching direct flights to the U.S., known as the fifth largest source market of Vietnam’s tourism.
Currently, national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines and budget airline Vietjet Air are scrambling to launch direct services to major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco in California along the U.S. West Coast.
The move follows U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granting a Category 1 rating to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) under its International Aviation Safety Assessment program last February, which means the latter meets safety standards to operate flights to the U.S.
Bamboo Airways was established last July as Vietnam’s fifth airline with a charter capital of VND700 billion ($30.4 million), which was increased by VND600 billion ($25.8 million) last March to VND1.3 trillion ($55.79 million).
This year, it is expected to raise its charter capital by additional VND700 million to VND2 trillion ($85.84 milllion).
Bamboo, which began flying in February, operates 10 aircraft on 17 domestic flight routes and has launched international routes to Japan and South Korea, the most favored outbound destinations of Vietnamese travelers.
Thanks to simplified visa requirements, Vietnam has emerged among the fastest-growing international travel destinations for Americans, who are big spenders in the country, shelling out on average $3,233 per trip, according to a survey released last year by travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth.
Americans are among the top foreign visitors to Vietnam, with 687,226 arrivals last year, an 11 percent year-on-year increase.
An ethnic Vietnamese population of over 2.1 million in the U.S. is also expected to be a steady source of travel demand, industry insiders say.
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