Air Mekong offers 30 pct stake to an US airline giant

The newly-opened airline Air Mekong has submitted the government’s approval to raise its chartered capital by selling 30 percent stake to the US’s second-largest airline SkyWest.

The local air carrier has submitted a plan to the Ministry of Transport regarding the sale of 8,571,000 shares, the Vietnam Economic Times said in a report early last month.
Air Mekong, which launched its first flight last October, said the sale would help the enterprise resolve its techonogical and human resource problems.

The news report did not say how much SkyWest would pay for the stake. However, last August, the Wall Street Journal reported that SkyWest planned to pay US$7 million for a 30 percent stake in Air Mekong, the maximum foreign holding allowed by Vietnamese law.

Dau Tu Tai Chinh Newspaper has interviewed Doan Quoc Huy, vice chairman of the airline, to find out more detailed information about the sales.

Dau Tu Tai Chinh: What will Air Mekong achieve from selling 30 percent stake to the US airline?

Doan Quoc Huy: Our strategic partner SkyWest is set to train our employees in airline management. All of Air Mekong’s technicians and maintenance engineers come from the US.

As a strategic partner, what kind of support does SkyWest offer to Air Mekong? And what do you think about the US airline?

SkyWest is the US’s second-largest airline, with 600 planes and 6,000 experienced pilots. Thus the US enterprise is an ideal partner to us.

SkyWest will be responsible for our technical maintenance. They sent more than 40 American pilots to work for us. Among them will be flight operation managing director, flight safety manager, chief pilot, pilot and technicians.

We also rented their best four air planes. We have set up maintenance stations at the Tan Son Nhat Airport to make regular examinations.

What does Air Mekong plan to compete with the national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines?

We has an edge over Vietnam Airlines or Jestar Airlines as we provide regular flights of the routes that they do not focus on, including routes from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Phu Quoc and Con Dao islands.

Air Mekong also offers passengers many high-quality services on our flights.

What do you think about Vietnam’s aviation market, which many investors considered as a very potential one?

Vietnam’s aviation market, indeed, is very attractive and potential. There is just a few flights to mountainous areas and islands.

The demand on traveling by air, meanwhile, is increasing sharply. Statistics from the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam show the number of passengers traveling by air last year increased 20 percent year-on-year and it is expected to move up further this year.

We provide more than 30 flights a day, with 70 percent of the number of seats on every flight occupied.

By Thanh Dung – Translated by Vu Minh

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