DALLAS – Today in Aviation, Vietnamese low-cost carrier (LCC) VietJet Air (VJ) finally commenced operations in 2011. The launch date had been pushed back several times, citing various reasons, including weak travel demand and branding issues. Its maiden flight departed Ho Chi Minh City (SGN) bound for Hanoi (HAN).
The airline can trace its history back to November 2007, becoming the first privately owned airline to be approved in the country. Based in HAN, with a secondary base in SGN, VJ planned to commence operations in 200/2009 on domestic routes using either Boeing 737-700s or Airbus A320s. VJ chose the latter to launch flights.
Finance was provided by a group of local businessmen led by entrepreneur Nguyen Thanh Cong. The AirAsia Group also announced its intention to purchase a 30% share in VJ in 2010 and planned to brand the carrier VietJet AirAsia. However, the deal was dropped in October 2011 after the Vietnamese government delayed approving the AirAsia brand’s use.
International services were launched in February 2013 between SGN and Bangkok (BKK). Around this time, the airline announced it would create a new joint venture in Thailand. Known as Thai VietJet Air (VZ), operations commenced in March 2015.
VJ placed an order for up to 100 Airbus A320-family aircraft in September 2013. The deal covered firm orders for 42 A320neo aircraft plus 14 A320ceos and six A321ceos plus purchase rights on 30 more. Since then, the airline has ordered additional A320 family aircraft, including the A321XLR.
In May 2016, VJ signed a deal for 100 Boeing 737 MAXs, including the -8, -10 and -200 variants, valued at US$11.3 billion at list prices. The airline ordered a further 100 of the type at the 2018 Farnborough Air Show. The additional deal would make VJ the largest -10 customer in Asia.
On December 25, 2021, VJ’s tenth anniversary, the airline received its first Airbus A330 (VN-A811). Its first wide-bodied jet was utilised on the carriers gradually resuming international network following the covid pandemic. A further two -300s have since joined the fleet, with another four on order.
Featured Image: VJ operates both the A321ceo and neo variants. Photo: Misael Ocasio Hernandez/Airways.