HANOI (REUTERS) - Vietnam's start-up Bamboo Airways has secured a licence from the local authorities, the company said, opening the way for its maiden flight in January after a string of delays.
Bamboo, owned by hotel and leisure firm FLC Group, will operate 37 routes connecting major cities and tourist destinations in Vietnam to "reduce pressure on aviation infrastructure", the airline said in a statement.
"In 2019, Bamboo Airways will also launch international air flights to Asian countries, starting with Japan, Korea and Singapore," it said, adding that it also intended to operate flights to Europe, without elaborating.
Vietnam's fifth airline signed a provisional deal in July to buy 20 Boeing 787-9 wide-body jets worth US$5.6 billion (S$7.6 billion) at list prices, and a memorandum of understanding in March with Airbus for up to 24 A320neo narrow-bodied aircraft.
Vietnam, one of Asia's fastest-growing economies, has recorded double-digit expansion in domestic and inbound passenger numbers. The government aims to boost tourism with visa exemptions and by promoting investment in the industry.
The granting of an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam marks the end of a series of stalled launches for Bamboo.
Bamboo chairman Trinh Van Quyet, also head of FLC, told Reuters in November that he aimed to launch the first domestic flight in December after a delay from October. But that date was pushed back due to a further delay in the issuing an AOC.
The airline said in December that it had planned its first flight in mid-January. Tuesday's (Jan 8) statement did not mention a more specific date.