Qatar Airways breaks into Central Vietnam with new route to Danang

17:02 | 19/12/2018
Qatar Airways – the world’s second largest cargo carrier – officially launched today its first flight from Doha to the central city of Danang, as part of its plans to boost its footprint in the lucrative Vietnamese aviation market.
qatar airways breaks into central vietnam with new route to danang
Leaders of Qatar Airways and the VIP delegation on the Doha-Danang direct flight

Qatar Airways will operate its Danang service four-times a week with a Boeing B787-8 aircraft, featuring 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy Class. Passengers will be able to enjoy the airline’s superior entertainment system, Oryx One, offering up to 4,000 entertainment options.

Danang is the third Vietnamese destination on Qatar Airways’ rapidly-expanding global network as Qatar and Vietnam celebrate 25 years of diplomatic relations. Qatar Airways flight QR0994 departed from Hamad International Airport (HIA) on Wednesday December 19 at 02:30 and landed in Danang at 13:20 local time.

“Qatar Airways is very pleased to extend its reach into Vietnam by launching our third gateway into this beautiful country. The addition of Danang to our global network further demonstrates our commitment to the Far East region, a highly important market for Qatar Airways. And we are excited for passengers travelling to and from Central Vietnam to experience our award-winning service and products for themselves," said Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways.

"With 56 weekly passenger flights to and from Vietnam, we take great pride in our role in bringing passengers to and from this beautiful county and also being a trade enabler and connector for Vietnamese and international businesses,” he added.

qatar airways breaks into central vietnam with new route to danang

International airlines crowd the market

It is easy to understand why Qatar Airway chose Danang, one of the largest cities in Vietnam. Danang is known for its sandy beaches and remarkable history as a French colonial port. This charming city offers magnificent views of Danang Bay and its beautiful Marble Mountains, making it an ideal destination for a relaxing summer vacation.

“Danang International Airport is the third busiest airport in Vietnam and is an important transportation hub in the central region. Being only two kilometres from the city centre, the launch of this direct flight will further boost Danang’s position as the commercial and educational centre of Central Vietnam. It is a fantastic follow-up to Qatar Airways’ introduction of daily services to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in January of this year, and we appreciate Qatar Airways’ strong support for Vietnam,” said Le Xuan Tung, deputy general director of Airports Corporation of Vietnam and acting director of Danang International Airport.

Commenting on the new route launch, Nguyen Dinh Thao, Vietnamese Ambassador to the State of Qatar, said: “This year marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Qatar, and we are delighted to welcome Qatar Airways to Danang, its third Vietnamese destination. The direct flight to Doha will play a crucial role in connecting Central Vietnamese passengers and freight to the rest of the world. With the increased connectivity, we also look forward to welcoming more tourists to Danang, the tourist capital of South Central Vietnam.”

Qatar Airways has a strong presence in Vietnam with six weekly freighter services to Hanoi, seven weekly freighter services to Ho Chi Minh City, and 28 weekly belly-hold flights to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City – and now Danang. Qatar Airways Cargo will offer to carry more than 1,400 tonnes out of the country each week, where businesses in the country will benefit not only from direct cargo capacity to the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas, but also regular services and reduced transit times. Major exports from Danang will consist of garments, perishables, and electronics.

Qatar Airways began direct services to Ho Chi Minh City in 2007 and launched its Hanoi service in 2010. In October 2017, Qatar Airways announced its interline partnership with Vietnam-based Vietjet Air, allowing Qatar Airways’ passengers to travel to and from points in Vietnam not served directly by Qatar Airways using a single reservation across both airlines’ networks.

A multiple-award-winning airline, Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Business Class’ by the 2018 World Airline Awards, managed by international air transport rating organisation Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Business Class Seat,’ ‘Best Airline in the Middle East,’ and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge.’ The world’s fastest-growing airline will add a number of exciting new destinations to its growing network in 2018, including Gothenburg, Sweden and Mombasa, Kenya, and many more, flying passengers on board its modern fleet of more than 200 aircrafts.

The launch of Danang marks the 14th new direct route to be introduced by Qatar Airways in 2018. As part of its continued expansion plans, Qatar Airways plans a host of exciting new destinations throughout 2019, including Valletta, Malta, and Isfahan, Iran, just to name a few.

The expansion of Qatar Airways proves how effective the Vietnamese aviation market is. In addition to Qatar Airways, other commercial airlines are flocking to Vietnam. Indeed, the country was the world's seventh fastest-growing aviation market during 2013-2017 and its increased attractiveness as a destination for travellers saw the number of international tourists rise by 21.3 per cent on-year during the first 11 months of 2018.

Ural Airlines, Russia’s fourth largest carrier, has proposed an air route connecting Russia with the south central province of Phu Yen. The popular destination aims to attract over 600,000 visitors via air travel in 2020.

Air Seoul, a subsidiary of Asiana Airlines that provides budget travel, has also opened a new air route to Danang, while IndiGo, the largest airline in India, plans to launch services to 24 new international destinations, including Vietnam, over the next 18 months.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), in the international passenger sector, there are 68 international airlines and three domestic Vietnamese airlines in operation. These carriers operate a total of nearly 130 international air routes connecting Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Danang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, and Haiphong to 28 countries and territories.

Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing at Boeing, said that buoyed by a fast growing economy and increasing demand for long-range passenger services, the Southeast Asian aviation market, including Vietnam, has been growing rapidly. He projected that airlines in the region will need 940 wide-body aircrafts in the region worth $280 billion over the next 20 years.

Will more newcomers heat up competition?

International air carriers are not the only ones making moves into the Vietnamese market, with a new domestic airline set for takeoff.

The domestic aviation market is eagerly anticipating the arrival of Bamboo Airways. Question marks remain over the possibility of launching its first commercial flight on December 29, as the Air Operator Certificate has yet to be granted.

Furthermore, Bamboo ­Airways planned to conduct flight tests on its routes from December 18-20. In order to complete this compulsory ­procedure, it needed to be in possession of its first A320 ­aircraft on December 5 and the second, an A319, on ­December 20. However, a ­senior official from the Airports Corporation of Vietnam ­confirmed that by December 12, the two aircrafts had yet to arrive in Vietnam.

This makes it highly unlikely for Bamboo Airways to enter the market ­before 2019, meaning that it will miss the peak aviation ­season between late 2018 and the start of the Lunar New Year.

To compete with giants such as Vietnam Airlines and VietJet, Bamboo Airways plans to focus its business model around cheap prices and niche markets. Routes will lead to newly emerging tourism ­destinations in Vietnam, rather than a focus on big cities, where aviation infrastructure is already overloaded.

Although it is too soon to assess the effectiveness of Bamboo Airways’ strategy, and how efficiently it will compete with others, what is certain is that its entry into the market will stoke the flames of competition.

Despite stiff competition ahead, there remains plenty of room for future growth. ­Vietnam’s passenger to population ratio is less than 1:1, compared to the rates of 4:1 or 5:1 in more developed markets like Singapore, Hong Kong, and the US.

Qatar Airways is a member of the oneworld global alliance. The award-winning alliance was named the World’s Best Airline Alliance 2015 by Skytrax for the third year running. Qatar Airways was the first Gulf carrier to join the global airline alliance, enabling its passengers to benefit from more than 1,000 airports in more than 150 countries, with 14,250 daily departures.

Oryx One, Qatar Airways’ in-flight entertainment system offers passengers up to 4,000 entertainment options from the latest blockbuster movies, TV box sets, music, games, and much more. Passengers flying on Qatar Airways flights served by its B787, A350, A380, A319, and select A320 and A330 aircrafts can also stay in touch with their friends and family around the world by using the award-winning airline’s on-board Wi-Fi and GSM service.

Qatar Airways proudly supports a range of exciting international and local initiatives dedicated to enriching the global community that it serves. Qatar Airways is the official sponsor of many top-level sporting events, including the FIFA 2018 and 2022 World Cups, reflecting the values of sports as a means of bringing people together, something at the core of the airline’s own brand message – Going Places Together.

Qatar Airways Cargo, one of the world’s leading international air cargo carriers, serves more than 60 freighter destinations worldwide via its world-class Doha hub and also delivers freight to more than 160 key business and leisure destinations globally on more than 200 aircrafts. The Qatar Airways Cargo fleet includes two Boeing 747-8 freighters, 15 Boeing 777 freighters, and eight Airbus A330 freighters.

By Bich Thuy

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