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Vietnamese startup Bamboo Airways takes off

17 Jan 2019 by Craig Bright
Bamboo Airways A321neo

Vietnamese startup carrier Bamboo Airways has officially begun operations following the completion of its inaugural flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi on Wednesday, January 16.

The launch of the new carrier, which describes itself as a hybrid airline combining full service with low costs, had previously been delayed on more than one occasion.

Nevertheless its launch has been a rather hurried affair since the airline was granted its aviation licence by the Vietnamese government at the beginning of November, with tickets having only been announced and made available to purchase last week on January 12.

As a hybrid carrier, Bamboo Airways does offer a business class cabin – Bamboo Business – along with Bamboo Eco basic economy class and a more full-service economy offering, Bamboo Plus. All classes offer hot meals or snacks.

While initially operating as a domestic carrier within Vietnam, Bamboo Airways has its sights set on regional and even long-haul international services. These include destinations in Northeast Asia such as China, South Korea and Japan, followed by services to Europe and North America.

In order to reach these far-off destinations, in June last year the airline confirmed an order for 20 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft and, according to a seat plan published by the airline, these will even include a first class cabin with four suites laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration.

The business class cabin, meanwhile, would comprise 24 seats in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 set up, and 274 seats in economy laid out nine-abreast.

Along with its Dreamliners, Bamboo Airways also placed an order with Airbus last year for 24 of its new A321neo aircraft.

Bamboo Airways isn’t the only startup carrier on the horizon in Asia.

Taiwanese airline Starlux is aiming for a 2020 launch date and, following its order for five A350-900s and 12 A350-1000s last year, plans to launch long-haul services in 2022.

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