Editor’s comment: Movers and shakers

LARA’s Kimberley Young provides a summary of the latest happenings across the low-fare airline and regional aviation industry.

A series of events in the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East have drawn members of the aviation community together – with low-fare airlines dominating the headlines.

Low-fare carrier Vietjet saw success at the CAPA Asia Aviation Summit, taking home the prize for ‘Asia Pacific Low-Cost Airline of the Year’. The airline was marked out for its “dynamic” expansion, growing to be Vietnam’s leading domestic carrier, with CAPA’s chairman Emeritus, Peter Harbison, remarking on the airline’s “solid financial foundation and a game plan to formidably challenge some of the largest operators in Asia-Pacific for decades to come.”

The airline has also been expanding its international network and in recent months has announced new connections in Thailand and between the coastal Vietnamese city of Da Nang and Singapore, Tokyo and Hong Kong.

However, it seems the airline has its sights set even further afield. In October, Vietjet announced its plans to add Airbus’s extra-long-range A321XLR to its fleet in a firm order for 15 aircraft and the conversion of five A321neo from its existing backlog, with its president and CEO, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, saying at the time: “The new A321XLR will be the perfect upgrade to Vietjet’s fleet as we look to grow our international flight network.”

Commenting on the order, the airline added in a statement that this expansion could open the possibility of flying longer routes across Asia “as well as to destinations as far afield as Australia and Russia.”

Vietjet isn’t the only airline broadening its horizons as the Dubai Airshow has seen aircraft orders abound, with low-fare and regional airlines in particular building on their plans for growth.

But as some see success, others have highlighted the challenges of the continued grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX. The regulatory federal body overseeing aviation in the UAE, the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), has reportedly told local media that it will await a decision by the US FAA as to when it will allow low-fare airline Flydubai’s 737 MAX to regain flight.

However, in a show of support for Boeing during the Dubai Airshow, the leisure carrier SunExpress has announced plans to exercise its options for 10 additional Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, expressing it has “full confidence that Boeing will deliver us a safe, reliable and efficient aircraft,” but adding, “this goes without saying that this requires the undisputed airworthiness of the model, granted by all the relevant authorities.”

With the industry’s decision-makers gathered in Dubai, we are set to see a busy week of developments in the sector. Make sure you keep an eye on our news pages for more of the biggest announcements from the show.


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