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Vietnam's Vinpearl Air takes off next summer with 6-plane fleet

Vingroup unit to train its own pilots as it chases middle-class-driven growth

Crowded skies: Vinpearl enters a market already served by five carriers, including Vietjet and Vietnam Airlines. (Photo by Nozomu Ogawa)

HANOI -- Vinpearl Air, the airline founded by leading Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup, will begin commercial flights next July as the country's sixth carrier.

Vinpearl Air will start off with six passenger planes, then add an average of six aircraft a year, including widebodies. The fleet will expand to 30 jets in 2024, then 42 planes in 2026.

The timetable was revealed in plans recently submitted to the Hanoi Department of Planning and Investment, according to local media reports.

Air travel is rising in Vietnam, Southeast Asia's third-most populous nation with about 100 million people. The airline is part of Vingroup's strategy of catering to the country's growing middle class.

To get the operation off the ground, Vinpearl Air is preparing to train roughly 400 pilots and mechanics each year. It has partnered with Canadian flight trainer CAE to assist with that task, and also plans to provide foreign airlines with trained personnel.

Vinpearl Air will face rivals including Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet and Bamboo Airways.

Long centered in real estate, Vingroup is diversifying rapidly into manufacturing and services.

The conglomerate began making cars this June under VinFast, Vietnam's first vehicle brand. Vingroup plans to develop both VinFast and Vinpearl Air into core operations.

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