Bamboo Airways signed an MoU with Melbourne International Airport on Tuesday to operate direct flights to the Australian city from Hanoi.
It would become the first Vietnamese carrier to fly on the route when it launches the service by year-end using Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner airplanes, the carrier said in a statement.
The Vietnamese community in Australia numbers nearly half a million but there are only a few direct services between the two countries, Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, who is on a visit in Australia, said at the signing ceremony.
The route is a precursor to starting direct flights to more destinations in Australia, Dung added.
Direct services between Vietnam’s southern metropolis, Ho Chi Minh City, and Melbourne operated by Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar Pacific carried around 259,000 travelers last year, Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) data shows.
Australia is among Vietnam’s top 10 tourism feeder markets with 387,000 arrivals in 2018. Australian tourists spent on average VND36.6 million ($1,580) per trip in Vietnam last year, according to the Vietnam Tourism Annual Report published by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism.
China is Vietnam’s biggest tourism market last year with 4.9 million arrivals but its tourists spent an average of only VND19 million ($819) per trip.
Bamboo Airways was established in July as Vietnam’s fifth airline, and currently operates 27 routes. It plans to increase this to 37-40 by the end of this year, including new long-haul routes to Europe and the Americas, the carrier stated.
Vietnam now has six domestic carriers: Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet, Jetstar Pacific, Vietnam Air Services Company (VASCO), Bamboo Airways, and newly-licensed Vietstar Airlines, a military-run company.
Hospitality group Thien Minh’s KiteAir, tourism firm Vietravel’s Vietravel Airlines and business conglomerate Vingroup’s Vinpearl Air are vying to be the seventh national carrier.