Kuala Lumpur-based AirAsia is having another tilt at a joint venture in Vietnam that will pit it against the well-established operations of Jetstar Pacific and VIetJet. Wholly-owned AirAsia subsidiary AirAsia Investment Limited signed an agreement on March 30 week with Gumin Company Limited, the Hai Au Aviation Joint Stock Company and their owner Tran Trong Kien to establish a budget carrier in the fast-growing market.The budget carrier will own 30 per cent of the joint venture which plans to start flying in 2018, subject to Vietnam’s often difficult regulatory process.Vietnam’s aviation market has been growing at a healthy clip and Bloomberg estimates the growth is three times the rate in other Southeast Asian countries.Government statistics show there were 52.2 million air travellers in Vietnam in 2016, an increase of 29 per cent year-on-year, with 28 million flying domestically. The International Air Transport Association has predicted there will be 112 million new passengers in Vietnam over the next two decades.This is AirAsia’s third attempt to get a foothold in Vietnam as part of its strategy to establish an Asian network and the CAPA Centre for Aviation believes being late to the market will make the job more difficult. “ AirAsia was initially partnered with VietJet Air but the partnership was dissolved prior to VietJet commencing operations in late 2011,’’ CAPA said.“The market has since more than doubled in size, and Vietnam has emerged as Southeast Asia’s fastest growing market. “While there is further growth potential, the LCC incumbents VietJet and Jetstar Pacific have first mover advantage, and infrastructure constraints could make it difficult for any new entrant to establish a significant presence.”AirAsia will also need to overcome regulatory hurdles.”Known for publicity stunts involving bikini-clad girls, VietJet launched in 2011 as Vietnam’s first privately owned “new age” carrier and publicly listed earlier this year.It operates almost 40 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft to about 60 domestic and international destinations with ports in Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Myanmar. It hopes to have a fleet of 200 aircraft by 2023 and last year placed an order with Boeing for 100 737 MAX jets with a list price of $US11.3 billion.Jetstar Pacific launched in 2008 and now flies to 16 domestic and international destinations with a fleet of 10 Airbus A320 aircraft. It has plans to expand its fleet to 30 A320s.Australia’s Jetstar Group owns 30 per cent of the airline while Vietnam Airlines, which is also a codeshare partner with Jetstar, owns the remainder.Jetstar’s Australian long-haul operations will move in May to reconnect with its sister airline when it resumes flights to Ho Chi Minh City.Starting May 10, Jetstar will operate Boeing 787 Dreamliner services three times weekly from Melbourne and four times weekly from Sydney.Jetstar Group chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka in January described Vietnam as one of the fastest growing holiday destinations in South East Asia.“Vietnam has the potential to become as popular as Bali or Thailand for Australian travellers,” Hrdlicka said. “Vietnam is well known for its rich culture, vibrant cities, beaches and cuisine, and travellers can take advantage of the wide range of experiences the region has to offer.“We expect our low fares and direct flights will generate even more demand for holidays to Vietnam.’’Jetstar International first flew to Vietnam from Australia a decade ago.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made major changes to its organisational structure on Tuesday by appointing Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil as head of the State unit of the party.It also appointed Malabar Hill MLA and founder of the real estate Lodha Group, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, as the Mumbai unit chief in place of Ashish Shelar, who has been inducted into the government as a Cabinet Minister. Mr. Patil replaces Raosaheb Danve, who has been inducted into the Union Cabinet in the second term of the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre. Announcing the appointment of the two leaders, party national secretary Arun Singh said the changes have been approved by party president Amit Shah. “The appointments are from immediate effect,” Mr. Singh said on Tuesday. Senior leaders said as per party rules, one can not hold the same term for two years. It was with this in mind that Mr. Danve met the Prime Minster in New Delhi and requested for a change of guard earlier this month. Mr. Danve is believed to have told Mr. Modi it would be difficult for him to juggle the responsibilities of State chief along with that of the Union minister in the run-up to the elections in Maharashtra. “We have some very capable leaders in our party and they can perhaps come forward to take this responsibility,” he said. Mr. Danve was appointed State party chief in 2015 and has been instrumental in the BJP expanding its base across the rural hinterland. “The BJP has since captured 25,000 gram sabhas, 23 Members of Parliament (MPs) and 18 corporations across rural Maharashtra. We have only managed to do so under the able leadership and guidance of the PM and Mr. Shah,” he said. Mr. Patil has been Cabinet Minister since July 2016, handling the Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation and Public Works department (PWD). A prominent member of the BJP, he is also the Guardian Minister of Kolhapur and Pune districts. Speaking on his appointment Mr. Lodha said, “The party has entrusted me with a major responsibility and I plan to fulfil it diligently. I would do that keeping in mind Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas and Sabka Vishwas.”