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Tour operator Vietravel files to launch airline

Aspiring carrier latest to tap Vietnam's burgeoning demand for domestic flights

Bamboo Airways is the latest player to launch domestic flights in Vietnam.   © Reuters

HANOI -- Major Vietnamese tour company Vietravel has applied to set up an airline, entering a newly crowded and rapidly growing market.

Demand for domestic flights is surging 10% a year in Vietnam, outpacing economic growth as a whole. Vietravel said it sees the need for an additional carrier and cited other examples of travel companies making similar moves around the world, local media report.

It has filed for a license with transportation authorities in Thua Thien Hue, a coastal province in central Vietnam.

Bamboo Airways became the country's newest domestic flight operator in January, joining four existing players that included flag carrier Vietnam Airlines and low-cost Vietjet. Vietravel and a joint venture backed by AirAsia -- Southeast Asia's leading budget carrier -- now awaiting approval will bring the total to seven. Growing competition will likely drive fares down.

Founded in 1995, Vietravel is among the oldest travel companies in Vietnam and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. It has operated 300 charter flights in the last two years in preparation for launching its own airline, including to Japan.

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