Vietnam Air plans Jetstar deal in weeks; volatility stalling IPO

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Vietnam Airlines said it's likely to make an announcement on taking over the government's controlling stake in the Jetstar Pacific discount-carrier venture with Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd. in four to six weeks.

The market is big enough to support a different product, Chief Executive Officer Pham Ngoc Minh said on December 9 in an interview in London, while stating that his own airline will remain a full-service operator.

Vietnam Air is meanwhile continuing to consider an initial public offering, Minh said, though the timing and details will depend on the development of currently "volatile" markets. Less than 50 percent of stock will be sold, he said.

The CEO, speaking after his carrier's inaugural flight to London Gatwick airport, said a new fleet plan has been handed to the government, with the strategy similar to that in the previous submission in 2009. Deliveries of Boeing Co.'s delayed 787 Dreamliner widebody will start in the second quarter of 2015, he said, while Airbus SAS's A380 superjumbo a likely prospect once local facilities are able to handle the plane.

Vietnam Air will take 19 Dreamliners, all of them leased, Minh said. The carrier is also purchasing 10 of Airbus's rival A350 planes and will lease four more, the executive said.

Vietnam Air aims to capture a 20 percent share of flights between its home country and London by the end of next year and is ultimately seeking two-fifths of that market, Minh said.

The Asian carrier also aims to offer a daily timetable to the U.K. capital by 2014-15, versus the four flights it's initially operating, split between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City,

Vietnam Air would have liked to have served London earlier but was been unable to get hold of attractive slots at the busier Heathrow airport after trying since 1998, the CEO said.

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