Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Air Mekong To Launch Flights With Help From SkyWest


AWIN First Jul 26 , 2010
Neelam Mathews

Startup Air Mekong plans to launch operations on Oct. 10, the millennium of Hanoi, Vietnam, AVIATION WEEK has learned.

The majority partner with 70% is BIM Group, Ha Long Investment and Development, and 30% is held by U.S. regional carrier SkyWest Airlines, looking at the country for growth outside the U.S. SkyWest’s wholly owned subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines will manage Air Mekong and supply flight crews.

SkyWest’s decision is supported by figures released by the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, which show Vietnam is having one of the strongest financial recoveries in the region. Visitor arrivals in the first four months of 2010 numbered 1.78 million, 35% more than in the same period the previous year.

Regional tourism has picked up with Chinese arrivals jumping 95% year-on-year in April. South Korean and Cambodian visitors also posted strong increases, of 38% and 98%, respectively. Arrivals from the U.S. grew 3.8% in April and from France almost 10%.

The carrier is entering the market against major competition, such as government-owned Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific Airlines, a low-cost carrier based on Ho Chi Menh City, and Vietnam Air Services Co., which supplies charter flights, oil platform flights and other aviation services.

There are a few roadblocks before Air Mekong can fly. Vietnam has adopted the Joint Aviation Authorities/European Aviation Safety Agency regulatory framework but has offered little guidance on compliance. The Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam has prepared an FAA regulatory framework to replace the JAA/EASA requirements later in the year. As time comes closer, however -- U.S. mechanics have already started arriving -- confusion reigns as manuals have yet to be approved and there is no clarity on the manual format.

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