Vietnam Airlines shoots for third in Southeast Asia

By Mai Ha, Thanh Nien News

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Vietnam Airlines (VNA) targets to become the third-largest national airline in Southeast Asia next year by becoming a “four-star” carrier, a VNA official said.
According to Skytrax, an international rating agency that ranks airlines on a scale from one to five stars, VNA is currently a three-star airline.  
The General Director of Vietnam Airlines, Pham Ngoc Minh, told the press Monday that the carrier will start replacing its current planes with large aircraft including Boeing 787 and Airbus 350.
It will also begin offering advanced technology and services to take third place behind Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways, he said.
Minh made his comments during a press conference organized to announce VNA’s post-privatization plans after the government approved its much-anticipated plan to sell 25 percent of its shares to investors.
Twenty percent, or 282 million shares, of the Hanoi-based, state-owned airline will be sold to strategic partners, according to a government decision signed last Wednesday.
Around 1.5 percent, or 21.5 million shares, will be offered to the company's employees, while roughly 3.5 percent will be sold to the public.
After the privatization, the government will retain a 75 percent controlling stake in the airline, which has a registered capital of roughly VND14 trillion (US$661 million).
Minh also told the press that VNA is working with foreign consultants to select its strategic investors.
"There is currently more than one foreign airline that wishes to be VNA's strategic investor. For example, Japanese airline ANA, " he said.
The same day, the airline recommended its initial public offering (IPO) to the Ministry of Transport of VND22,300 ($1.05) per share in late November.
After the IPO, VNA will retain a 70 percent controlling stake in low-cost carrier Jetstar Pacific as well as its shares in Cambodian national carrier Cambodia Angkor Air and Vietnam Air Services Company (VASCO), Minh told reporters.

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