The group’s newly created unit, Vinpearl Air, has submitted the application with the Department of Planning and Investment of Hanoi, reported online newspaper VnExpress.

Vinpearl Air, with an investment of 4.7 trillion dong ($202.56 million), is keen to start flying from July next year, with an initial fleet of six. The unit plans to expand its fleet to 36 by 2025, the report said, citing application details.

A Vingroup spokesman declined to comment.

Vinpearl Air Chairwoman Nguyen Thanh Huong told another local newspaper that the firm is “finalising procedures to establish the airline”.

Vingroup, once a real estate and retail conglomerate, has grown to become Vietnam’s largest listed firm with a market capitalisation of more than $16 billion. The company recently launched smartphones and cars, and is also looking to foray into artificial intelligence.

If licensed, Vinpearl Air would use narrowbody planes such as the Airbus SE A320 or Boeing Co 737 and widebodies such as the A330, A350 or 787, the VnExpress report said.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam told the Ministry of Transport in a note on Wednesday that Vinpearl Air is “qualified” to operate 30 aircraft by 2025, the report said.

Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Last month, Vietnam’s top tour operator Vietravel said it was also seeking funds for its project to launch an airline.

In January, property and leisure firm FLC Group’s Bamboo Airways launched its maiden commercial flight to become the fifth Vietnamese airline, heightening competition in the aviation sector of the Southeast Asian nation, which is emerging as a popular tourist destination.

The launch plans come at a time aviation competition in Vietnam is heating up and its aviation infrastructure is getting overloaded. Other local airlines operating are Vietnam Airlines , Jetstar Pacific Airlines, Vietjet Aviation and Vietnam Air Services Co.

By Khanh Vu - Reuters - August 22, 2019

Former Vietnam Airlines exec becomes Vingroup airline CEO

Vingroup has named a former deputy CEO of Vietnam Airlines as the first chief executive of its new airline, Vinpearl Air.

Phan Xuan Duc worked for the national flag carrier between 2008 and 2017, and has 30 years’ experience in the aviation industry. He was among the most experienced pilots at Vietnam Airlines.

Vingroup, the largest private company in Vietnam, has applied for an airline license for Vinpearl Air. The conglomerate has invested VND4.7 trillion ($202 million) in it and wants to start flying next July.

Vingroup’s Vinpearl Air Flight Training Center began admissions last week to train its first batch of 400 pilots and flight technicians.

Vietnam has six commercial airlines: Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Air, Jetstar, VASCO, Bamboo Airways, and the latest Vietstar Airlines, which has yet to begin flying. Thien Minh Group, Vietravel Airlines and Vinpearl Air have all applied for licenses.

By Anh Tu - - August 23, 2019