Air Mekong gets jets for October maiden flights

Vietnamese startup carrier Air Mekong received four Canada-made planes chartered by US-based SkyWest Leasing Inc. on Sunday, another step toward the private airline’s launch of domestic services this October.

The four Bombardier CRJ900 jets, with 90 seats each, landed at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City at noon. They are three years old, according to Air Mekong.

A Bombardier CRJ-900 chartered by Air Mekong at Tan Son Nhat Airport, Hochiminh City, on August 15, 2010

The 100% Vietnamese carrier plans to launch operations with domestic flights on October 10. It is set to sell ticket as of mid-September.

The planned services include Hanoi-Phu Quoc, Hanoi-Hochiminh City, Hanoi-Phu Quoc, and flights from Hanoi to Danang, Nha Trang, Dalat and routes from HCMC to Danang, Nha Trang, Dalat, Con Dao Island, Buon Ma Thuot, Hai Phong and Vinh.

The carrier is waiting for approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam. Air Mekong has not announced its fares yet.

SkyWest, the parents company of SkyWest Leasing Inc., says it already invested US$7 million in a 30% stake of Air Mekong. SkyWest adds it has personnel on site to provide technical expertise.

Air Mekong says it has recruited more than 40 pilots and is training 50 flight attendants.

The carrier was set up in 2009 as the third private airline in Vietnam after Indochina Airlines and VietJet Air. Indochina has stopped operations due to losses, while VietJet does not fly yet.

Currently operational airlines in Vietnam are national carrier Vietnam Airlines, its subsidiary Vietnam Air Service Co. (VASCO), and Jetstar Pacific.

By Truong Van

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