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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     27 December 2011

VietJet, Vietnam’s first private airline takes off

HA NOI — The launch of VietJet Air, the country's first private carrier to offer both domestic and international flights, is expected to help attract more international visitors, says Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Hoang Tuan Anh.

Anh delivered this statement during the ceremony to welcome the carrier's first commercial flight, which carried 120 passengers from HCM City to Ha Noi on Saturday.

The addition of VietJet Air to the market would help meet the goal of greeting 10 million foreign visitors per year by 2015, he noted, adding that about 88 per cent of international tourists currently arrived in Viet Nam by air, compared to just 10 per cent by sea and only 2 per cent by land.

"As of today, VietJet Air officially operates round-trip flights on the HCM City-Ha Noi route," said the airline's general director Pritam Singh. "In the short term, we will consider increasing the number of flights on the route to better meet the rising demand of passengers during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday."

The launch of Ha Noi-Da Nang and HCM City-Da Nang services was also slated for the first quarter of next year.

The airline planned to increase its fleet by three to five aircrafts annually to a fleet of 15 aircraft by early 2015, allowing the airline to fly to other destinations domestically and in the Asian region, including Macau, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.

VietJet Air is the fifth airline to operate on the domestic market, following Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, Air Mekong and the Viet Nam Air Services Co (Vasco). It was the first private airline to obtain a licence, although Indochina Airlines and Air Mekong, licensed in 2008 and 2009, were able to establish flights earlier.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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