Vietravel Airlines (Hue Phu Bai Int'l) chief executive, Vu Duc Bien, has told Reuters news agency that the start-up carrier expects to launch its maiden charter flight in November 2020.

He hopes to order A321neo or B737 aircraft at the Singapore Airshow in February, for delivery by 2025. The company, owned by the country’s leading tour operator Vietravel, will start with three to four leased aircraft. It anticipates a fleet of six by 2021, eight to ten within five years, and eventually 20 to 30.

Vietravel Airlines has applied for an initial operating licence and aims to start its AOC certification drive in time to make its maiden charter flight, tentatively set for November next year, Bien said.

“We already have passengers even before we've launched our first flight,” he enthused, pointing to the parent company's one million customers last year. “A majority will be international flights. Our target markets are Japan, South Korea, ASEAN, Australia, and China.”

Vietravel Airlines has raised VND700 billion dong (USD30.15 million) through a bond sale and plans to sell a stake of up to 34% of the company to domestic investors in its first year of operations to finance further expansion.

“We want to build a purely Vietnamese airline,” Bien said.

Vietravel Airlines joins a rising number of new entrants in Vietnam. Bamboo Airways (QH, Hanoi) launched its maiden commercial flight in January, becoming the country's fifth airline; Vietnam’s biggest conglomerate Vingroup has applied for a licence to start a carrier next year; and Vinpearl Air (Hanoi) is reportedly carrying out preparations to launch in July 2020.