HANOI • AirAsia, the low-cost carrier headed by Malaysian tycoon Tony Fernandes, plans to start a Vietnamese carrier in a local partnership, as cheap fares and rising incomes fuel a travel surge in the South-east Asian nation.
The region's largest budget airline will partner Gumin, Hai Au Aviation Joint Stock and businessman Tran Trong Kien for the venture, which is expected to start flying early next year, AirAsia said.
Gumin will own about 70 per cent of the new venture, with AirAsia holding the rest.
Vietnam is the latest country to woo Mr Fernandes, who is seeking to build a pan-Asian budget airline, as the 28 per cent growth in passenger traffic was triple the pace in other South-east Asian nations. The fifth-biggest market in the region has seen domestic traffic double since 2013, and the middle-class will comprise close to a quarter of its population by 2010, AirAsia said.
AirAsia has over the years established affiliates in Indonesia, Thailand, India and Japan, and is betting on a low-cost, long-haul model for global travel via its AirAsia X unit. It has ordered hundreds of planes from Airbus, and is selling a plane- leasing unit to raise more cash.
Vietnam will continue to see a double-digit gain in passenger numbers in the next decade, said ACB Securities in December.