Bamboo Airways Expands International Footprint

New routes from Vietnam to Australia, Germany, Japan and the UK will start before the end of March.

Credit: Bamboo Airways

Vietnamese leisure airline Bamboo Airways has confirmed plans to launch its first route to Germany, as well as opening reservations for new services to London Heathrow (LHR), Melbourne (MEL) and Tokyo Narita (NRT).

The carrier will add Frankfurt (FRA) to its network from Feb. 25, initially operating twice a week from Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) using Boeing 787-9 aircraft. Frequencies will be increased in line with market demand.

AVIAREPS Group has also been appointed as Bamboo’s general agent in the German market as the carrier seeks to further expand Vietnam-Germany connectivity. Following the signing ceremony (pictured) AVIAREPS will now provide support with local government procedures and policies, sales and marketing, and market research.

After the launch of its maiden German route, Bamboo hopes to add a nonstop route from Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport ({SGN}}) to Frankfurt “as soon as conditions allow,” while the airline is studying direct flights to Berlin (BER) and Munich (MUC).

Bamboo signed a memorandum of understanding with Munich Airport shortly before the onset of the pandemic with the intention of launching flights during 2020 summer season.

“Starting with a route connecting Vietnam with Germany’s largest airport Frankfurt, we expect to quickly expand our flight network to many economic centers of Germany, providing opportunities to access and experience new international destinations,” Bamboo CEO Dang Tat Thang said.

Vietnam Airlines is currently the only other carrier to offer nonstop Vietnam-Germany flights, with Hanoi-Frankfurt service resuming on Jan. 27. From Feb. 8, the carrier intends to serve a weekly Hanoi-Frankfurt-London Heathrow-Hanoi route, as well as operating Hanoi-Frankfurt-Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)-Hanoi once a week.

According to figures provided by Sabre Market Intelligence, O&D traffic between Vietnam and Germany totaled 518,000 two-way passengers in 2019, up by 9.4% on the previous 12 months. There are about 200,000 people of Vietnamese descent living in Germany, so Bamboo expects to attract strong VFR flows, as well as leisure and business traffic.

Alongside this, Germany and Vietnam are important trading partners, with bilateral trade between the two countries increasing by almost 80% over the last decade, rising from $5.6 billion in 2011 to $10 billion in 2020. Germany is now Vietnam’s second largest import and export market in the European Union.

In addition to entering the German market, Bamboo has also confirmed the flight schedule for three more previously announced international routes.

The airline’s first route to Japan will begin on Jan. 25, connecting Hanoi and Tokyo using Airbus A321neos. Frequencies will increase to two round trips per week from Feb. 10, providing competition for All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Vietjet and Vietnam Airlines.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, the number of tourists between the two nations totaled about 1.5 million annually, while Vietnam is the second largest expat community in Japan, with about 500,000 people living in the country.

From Feb. 19, Bamboo expects to launch a 2X-weekly Ho Chi Minh City-MEL using 787-9s, becoming the carrier’s first scheduled service to Australia. The airline operated a series of chartered repatriation flights between Melbourne and Hanoi in 2020 and still hopes to begin regular flights linking Melbourne to the Vietnamese capital.

Bamboo will compete in the Ho Chi Minh City-Melbourne market with Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar once the latter resumes service in March.

The fourth new route joining Bamboo’s network will connect Hanoi and London Heathrow from March 22. The airline secured slots at the UK airport during the first quarter of 2021 and operated a one-off non-repatriation flight there last October.

The carrier’s booking system currently only has reservations open for the March 22 flight, but Bamboo intends to provide two HAN-LHR round trips per week.