The country’s fifth airline is working with authorities of the Czech Republic to operate a direct air route connecting Vietnam’s capital Hanoi with Prague after signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Prague’s international airport Wednesday.
The Hanoi-Prague direct air route using Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft aims to cater to increasing travel demand and contribute to bilateral economic and tourism cooperation, Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at the signing ceremony during his official visit to the Eastern European country.
According to official figures, more than 65,000 Vietnamese live in the Czech Republic now, making it the third biggest minority group in the country, which also pushes the rising demand for air travel between the two countries.
Currently, there is no airline from either country that operates direct flights between Vietnam and the Czech Republic. Passengers travelling between the two countries have to transit through at least one European city like London, Stockholm, Zurich and Amsterdam or in Dubai. These flights take 14 to 19 hours.
The new direct flight connecting Hanoi and Prague is expected to cut traveling time between Vietnam and the Czech Republic to 12 hours.
Bamboo Airways was established last July as Vietnam’s fifth airline with a charter capital of VND700 billion, which was increased by VND600 billion ($25.8 million) last month to VND1.3 trillion ($56 million).
Starting this year, the airline is operating 17 domestic flight routes. It plans to start international flights soon, with Japan, Singapore and South Korea mentioned as possible destinations.
The carrier also plans to fly to Europe in June and directly to the U.S. by the end of this year or early next year.
Bamboo Airways is preceded in the domestic aviation market by Vietnam Airlines, budget airline Vietjet, low-cost carrier Jetstar Pacific and Vietnam Air Services Company (VASCO).
According to Mastercard, Vietnam has the second fastest growing outbound market in the Asia Pacific region after Myanmar, with projected annual growth of 9.5 percent between 2016 and 2021.
Mastercard has forecast that 7.5 million Vietnamese travelers will travel outside the country in 2021.
Vietnam’s aviation industry has been growing at the third fastest pace in Asia-Pacific region. It welcomed 12.5 million air passengers last year, up 14.4 percent from 2017, according to the General Statistics Office.