Bamboo Airways To Order Boeing 777X?!?

Filed Under: Other Airlines

I’ve written about Bamboo Airways, which is the fairly new and extremely ambitious Vietnamese airline that I simply can’t make sense of.

Basics of Bamboo Airways

Bamboo Airways was founded in 2017, and already has 50 Airbus A321neos and 30 Boeing 787-9s on order. The Vietnamese airline is privately owned and took delivery of their first Boeing 787-9 in late 2019. Bamboo Airways will launch their first long haul route between Hanoi and Prague as of March 2020.

Bamboo Airways 787-9

You’d think having 30 Boeing 787-9s on order would already be sufficiently ambitious, though the airline now plans to take this growth to the next level.

Bamboo Airways to order Boeing 777X?

Bloomberg is reporting that Bamboo Airways is expected to buy 12 Boeing 777X planes in the second quarter of 2020, in what would be a $5 billion order based on published prices (though airlines almost always get significant discounts).

The Boeing 777X is Boeing’s new version of the 777, with a capacity to seat more than 400 people, and with an even longer range than previous versions of the 777. This would be a big win for Boeing, since the 777X hasn’t received many new orders lately, after experiencing significant delays.

The Boeing 777X recently completed its first flight

This is kind of nuts…

On the one hand, I don’t want to play armchair CEO. On the other hand, Bamboo Airways is the same airline that was considering leasing A380s so they could fly nonstop between Vietnam and the US as of this year. That’s a market that’s questionable with the 787, let alone with the A380.

Obviously there’s demand for travel between Vietnam and the US — no one denies that — though the issue is that it’s low yield traffic. In order to make ultra long haul flying work (especially with a three cabin configuration, as Bamboo Airways has), you need a good amount of paid premium traffic.

Bamboo Airways’ 787 business class

With Chinese airlines basically capacity dumping in the US (though coronavirus has caused many of these flights to be temporarily suspended), passengers would have to be willing to pay a huge premium for this to work.

Vietnam Airlines has long been considering flying to the US, and they’ve said that if they did so they’d almost certainly lose money. As Vietnam Airlines’ CEO explained:

“Like most of the airlines, like Philippines and Thai, we don’t have enough business travelers. We are just dependent on visiting friends and relatives. That is no way to make money.”

Yet Bamboo Airways thinks they can make it work.

It’s one thing to fly to the US with a 787-9, but to get an even bigger plane for a US route is puzzling.

Bottom line

There are all kinds of airline startups, from imaginary ones struggling to hire high altitude flight attendants, to real ones backed by experienced aviation executives with realistic goals.

And then you have Bamboo Airways. This is a privately owned and extremely well funded airline, though I can’t really make sense of them. Clearly they’re “legitimate,” in the sense that this isn’t a scam, or anything.

However, this airline doesn’t seem to understand the concept of crawling before you walk. The airline has announced a single 2x weekly long haul route, and now they want to expand their long haul fleet beyond the 30 787s they already have on order?

Can anyone make sense of Bamboo Airways?

Comments
  1. Ben- do you reckon that this is just going to turn into another Baltia, albeit one with BRAND NEW planes, rather than a – now 32 year old – 747-200?

  2. Are the 777Xs definitely in addition to the 789s?

    At the moment the order is speculation in any event and equally it is speculation that they want to fly to the US with them. The market to Europe is far more vibrant and maybe they are out to see Vietnam Airlines off the patch.

  3. You can drop the “kind of” from “This is kind of nuts…”.

    Will absolutely cease to exist within 2-3 years, question is whether they actually believe this strategy is not nuts, or it’s a deliberately nuts strategy with the objective of hurting VN enough that VN will have to look at acquiring them in a couple of years.

  4. I had the opportunity to fly Bamboo last year and the service they offered for a discount airline puts every North American airline I have flow on (and it is substantial) to shame.

  5. If you want to fly them (and I assume you do), I would think you’ll need to do it soon before they go bankrupt… You should probably book a HAN-PRG flight for this summer 🙂

  6. I worry that Bamboo is trying to run before it can walk. There is potential for US flights as well as 777x flights but that can only happen if Bamboo can convince people to see Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City as a connecting hub. Like Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are in that region. Maybe then they could make 777x flights work but if they can’t they’re effectively throwing money down the drain. I’m wondering what their business plan is because I’m struggling to see it.

  7. I would be thinking they are no different from the new WOW airlines if they haven’t already started service. Now I’m confused.

  8. I sometimes wonder how vain can some individuals be in the airline industry.
    There seems to be no debate (with the exception of the Bamboo executives of course) that non-stop routes from Vietnam are financially unviable let alone with a mammoth 777x.
    The question that baffles me is that who signed this off?

  9. They are seriously expanding too fast, just like Norwegian. 30 787s for a new startup airline is already ambitous enough. Where the heck are they going to fly all these planes? And now they want to order even more planes (777x) to launch flights to the United States? Is there really that much excess demand for them to be ordering so many planes and deploying them on the most insane of routes? I really would love to see what sort of position they would be in 2 or 3 years from now.

  10. The company is short on cash flow so they calling for more investors by order a dozen Boeing 777 then everything vanish! Tada!

  11. Bamboo is a very real airline that shouldn’t be confused with Baltia. It also has a real customer base with 1.5 million or so vietnamese residents in the US, most of whom live near LAX and have friends, family, and business ties with SGN and wealthy enough to travel frequently. Of course, yields may or may not be great, but people will pay a premium for a nonstop, and Bamboo will have lower labour costs than almost any of its competitors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *