Vietnamese start-up Bamboo Airways plans Melbourne flights with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner

29 Nov 2019 by Michael Allen
Bamboo Airways Dreamliner

Bamboo Airways is planning to fly to Melbourne with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner by the second quarter of 2020 and hopes that opening that route will pave the way for it to launch services to more Australian destinations in future.

The idea is to ultimately create a service connecting Australia with Europe via Vietnam, according to a press release from the airline. This would put the Vietnamese start-up airline in direct competition with other more established carriers that offer similar routes connecting Australia and Europe, including Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

On Tuesday, Bamboo Airways signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Melbourne Airport to cooperate on launching the service.

Senior government officials from Vietnam attended a signing ceremony in Australia.

Bamboo Airways + Melbourne Airport MoU signing ceremony

Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung (pictured above, top row, third from left) was in Melbourne for the signing, as was the Plenipotentiary of Vietnam in Australia Ngo Huong Nam (pictured above, top row, second from left) and director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam Dinh Viet Thang (pictured above, top row, far left).

Also pictured above at the front are (left) Thang Dang Tat, CEO of Bamboo Airways, and (right) Lyell Strambi, CEO of Melbourne Airport.

The Vietnamese government owns flag carrier Vietnam Airlines, which does not fly to Melbourne, though it does fly to Sydney with a B787-9 Dreamliner – the same aircraft type with which Bamboo Airways hopes to fly to Melbourne. Bamboo Airways is privately owned by Vietnamese conglomerate FLC Group which, according to Bamboo Airways’ website, is involved in real estate, construction, hospitality, finance and mining.

First Dreamliner delivery

Bamboo Airways’ first B787-9 Dreamliner will arrive in Vietnam next month, a spokesperson for the airline confirmed to Business Traveller Asia-Pacific.

On October 22, Bamboo Airways signed an agreement to receive two B787-9 Dreamliners from GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), one of the biggest aircraft leasing companies in the world.

A group of Bamboo Airways staff have been in Singapore since November working on aircraft delivery. The first one will arrive in Vietnam in December and the second will arrive maybe late December or early January, Business Traveller Asia-Pacific understands.

The lessor is already supplying two narrow-body A321neo aircraft to Bamboo Airways.

On top of these aircraft from GECAS, Bamboo Airways also has 30 B787-9s on order from Boeing. The airline initially ordered 20 787-9s last year, before upping the order to 30 aircraft in February on the sidelines of the summit meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Around the same time, Vietnamese low-cost carrier Vietjet, which is not affiliated with Bamboo Airways, placed an order for 100 B737 Max aircraft.

Back to school 

Bamboo Airways has also signed an MoU with RMIT University in Melbourne. The university offers several aviation related courses, as well as pilot training.

The airline describes the university as “one of Australia’s leading pilot, aviation and aerospace engineering training centres.”

“The MoU opens up opportunities for bilateral cooperation in the fields of aviation, aerospace and transnational education, creating a common vision for cooperation and qualifications recognized by both Australia and Vietnam. Cooperation sectors of priority include training commercial pilots, aviation management and aircraft engineers,” Bamboo Airways said.

“Bamboo Airways and RMIT agreed to work closely, expand the scope of training, develop curriculum and research activities, and encourage more women’s participation in aviation.”

An RMIT University spokesperson told Business Traveller Asia-Pacific that it is “pleased with this announcement given our 20-year relationship with Vietnam, including three campuses of 7,000 students and 700 staff at RMIT Vietnam”.

The spokesperson added that the news coincides with the university’s recent announcement of introducing a flight simulator into Vietnam to support local aviation training.

Bamboo Airways started operations in January and wants to be a “five-star airline operating both domestic and international routes”. The airline has three fare classes – Eco, Plus and Business – offer varying degrees of generosity in regard to luggage allowance, seat selection and booking changes. Initially it is flying domestic routes, connecting Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang with other leisure destinations in the country, but from 2021 Bamboo hopes to add flights to the US and Europe – and this route to Melbourne in 2020.

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