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|The signing of the memorandum of understanding between Prague airport and Bamboo Airways|
The forum was organised by the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic together with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the occasion of the visit of Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and members of the local government to the Czech Republic.
"We also support the Vietnamese airline to establish a direct air route from Vietnam to Prague. This direct air route can promote trade and tourism between the two countries," said the Czech Prime Minister at the forum.
He considered Vietnam a huge market, saying that “It is certainly no coincidence that US President Donald Trump has visited Vietnam twice in his term of office. I have not been there yet, but I told Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc that when he starts flying Bamboo Airways, I would like to fly there.”
News portal iDNES cited Prime Minister Andrej Babis as saying he would be "very happy" if this connection started in Christmas.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, PM Phuc said he strongly supported Bamboo Airways to open a direct air route linking Vietnam and the Czech Republic to boost the development of tourism and labour sectors, promoting traditional trade and relations between the two countries.
The E15 daily paper cited a Vietnamese representative on the Czech Government Council for National Minorities confirmed that discussions are underway, and “all parties are very interested in launching the route, wanting to open it as soon as possible.”
Under the memorandum, Prague airport – one of the largest airports in Eastern Europe – will apply various incentives for Bamboo Airways in the approval of flight schedules, market research and promotions, policies on take off and landing, and passenger service fees.
"The Czech Republic has a very large Vietnamese community, but travellers who want to fly from Vietnam must endure prolonged connecting flights. With the new direct air route, Bamboo Airways aims at contributing to bilateral tourism and trade exchange, boosting economic development in general for the two countries," Duong Thi Mai Hoa, vice president cum deputy general director of Bamboo Airways, said.
Dubbed the "heart of Europe," direct flights linking the Czech Republic and Vietnam will be an important premise for Bamboo Airways’ plan of expanding its international routes to Eastern Europe in particular and the European market in the future, she added.
The Czech Republic is home to nearly 70,000 Vietnamese, the third biggest diaspora of foreigners in the country after Ukrainians and Slovaks. It is the third largest Vietnamese community in Europe, after France and Germany.
However, the current lack of direct flights from Vietnam to the Czech Republic results in passengers having to catch connecting flights that may last from 14 to 19 hours, transiting to at least one European city, such as London, Stockholm, Zurich, Amsterdam or Dubai.
Upon the operation of the Vietnam-Prague direct air route of Bamboo Airways by the wide-body Boeing 787 Dreamliner, travelling time from Vietnam to the Czech Republic is expected to be reduced to just 12 hours.
According to Prague Radio, “Vietnam agreed in June 2017 during an official visit to Hanoi by Czech President Milos Zeman to open a direct air route to the Czech Republic and offer visa waivers to its citizens for up to 15 days.”
Bamboo Airways, founded by the Vietnamese conglomerate FLC Group as a hybrid airline, has announced major aircraft purchases in recent months in preparation for launching long-haul flights. By the end of this year, its fleet is estimated to rise to 40, including Airbus A321 Neo and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. Bamboo Airways also announced its first charter flights to the Republic of Korea and Japan earlier this month.