Bamboo Airways will look to join an alliance in 2023 as the Vietnamese startup seeks further cooperation to develop its network beyond Asia.
Speaking at Routes Asia 2022 in Da Nang, Bamboo CCO Thach Pierre Hoang said the carrier is already in discussions with the likes of Japan Airlines, Air Canada and Virgin Australia on potential interlining pacts. In 2023 the project team will make a decision on which alliance to pursue membership of after getting a clearer picture on criteria and admission conditions.
Bamboo will be launching a new 2X-weekly Ho Chi Minh City (SGN)-Frankfurt (FRA) service from June 16, adding to its current Hanoi (HAN)-FRA service. Thach says the immediate focus is to make the current routes profitable, which could be achieved by increasing frequencies.
Further network expansion will depend on fleet growth. Management hopes Bamboo's investors can approve funds to increase its fleet to 100 aircraft over the next five years. Already flying three Boeing 787-9, Bamboo will get its fourth of the type by the end of 2022.
On the regional side, Bamboo operates five leased Embraer E190s. Thach says this "third" fleet has helped Bamboo remain competitive, covering virtually all domestic links—some not covered by its competitors. He said he participated in a E-190 E2 test flight recently and is currently speaking to lessors about bringing in the newer aircraft.
To help the industry recover, he called for support for the sector, including from international embassies who he requested work to shorten visa processing times. Vietnamese have to apply for visas when traveling to most countries outside of Southeast Asia, and the current demand has seen backlogs lasting more than one month.
Finally, Thach hopes airports can provide startups like Bamboo with permanent slots to help grow its network as the industry returns to the skies.