Vietnam budget airline opens Ho Chi Minh City-Da Lat route

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Vietnam 's private low-cost carrier VietJetAir launched its eighth domestic route connecting Hanoi and the Central Highlands resort town of Da Lat on December 10.

The route serves one round trip a day. The 100 minute flight departs from Hanoi at 9:35 a.m. and returns at 11:50 p.m.

VietJetAir provided 300 health insurance cards to disadvantaged people of Lam Dong Province to mark the new route.

Da Lat, also known as the country's flower city, is a tourism destination thanks to its cool weather, pine-tree covered hills, lakes, waterfalls and French colonial villas.

Desmond Lin, VietJetAir's Director of Business Development, said in a press release the new route targets couples and newlyweds, but also noted that it is hoped to boost investment and trade in the province and surrounding localities.

VietJetAir started operating in December of last year and is providing services to and from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Hai Phong, Nha Trang and Hue.

It plans to launch services to Vinh and Phu Quoc Island by year's end and to destinations in southeast and northeast Asia in 2013, when it will double its current fleet of three Airbus aircraft. The carrier plans to expand its fleet to 15 aircraft by 2015.

The airline recently announced flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Bangkok from February 10, the first day of the Lunar New Year. It has appointed Quality Express Tour, one of Thailand's leading travel agencies established in 1999, as its sales agent in Thailand.

Since its opening, VietJetAir has tried various ticket promotions including selling tickets for just VND10,000 ($0.48) or VND99,000 ($4.75), not including taxes and fees.

But one controversial promotion on the airline's inaugural flight from Ho Chi Minh City to the central coast town of Nha Trang on August 3 caused the airline to be fined VND20 million ($951) in cash as it involved an in-flight bikini show.

The airline service has also been hindered by technical errors that have caused several flight delays.

On September 13 angry customers forced it to buy nearly 100 tickets from its competitor, Jetstar Pacific, after a flight was delayed due to maintenance problems.

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