Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways Will Fly To Prague

Filed Under: Other Airlines

A few weeks ago I wrote about how Vietnam’s most ambitious airline will be launching long haul flights this spring. Well, the schedule for those flights has now been published, and they’re also on sale.

What is Bamboo Airways?

Bamboo Airways is a privately owned Vietnamese airline that took delivery of their first Boeing 787-9 in late 2019.

The airline was founded in 2017, but has huge growth aspirations. Up until a couple of months ago the airline had fewer than 20 planes in their fleet. Now they’re expanding significantly, as they take delivery of 30 Boeing 787-9s and 50 Airbus A321neos.

Bamboo Airways 787-9

The airline plans to use the 787-9s to fly to Europe and North America. Heck, the airline has had some pretty bizarre ways they’ve considered growing.

In June 2019, Bamboo Airways’ CEO said that the company was considering leasing A380s so they could fly nonstop between Vietnam and the US as of early 2020. That’s a market that’s questionable with the 787, let alone the A380.

Bamboo Airways launching Prague flights

Bamboo Airways will be launching 2x weekly Hanoi to Prague flights as of March 29, 2020. The flight will operate with the following schedule on Sundays and Wednesdays:

QH602 Hanoi to Prague departing 9:20AM arriving 4:00PM
QH601 Prague to Hanoi departing 6:05PM arriving 10:40AM (+1 day)

The flight covers a distance of 5,179 miles in each direction. It’s blocked at 11hr15min westbound and 11hr35min eastbound, which seems odd, since there’s a tailwind heading east.

This route might seem random on the surface, though the way the airline sees it:

  • The Czech Republic has a large Vietnamese population, of around 70,000 people
  • 100,000 people per year already fly between Vietnam and the Czech Republic
  • There’s increasing trade between the two countries

How expensive are Bamboo Airways tickets?

Bamboo Airways tickets between Hanoi and Prague are already on sale, and two things immediately stand out:

  • Business class fares are outrageously expensive, with no sale so far
  • Roundtrip fares are the same whether you’re originating in Hanoi or Prague (which is rare, since airlines often price differently based on the market you’re originating in)

Before taxes and fees, one-way business class fares are more than 10x as expensive as one-way economy fares.

It looks like the cheapest roundtrip economy fare is 16,625,000VND, or about 715USD.

Meanwhile the cheapest roundtrip business class fare is 102,527,000VND, or about 4,410USD.

That business class pricing seems awfully steep for what’s a new leisure airline launching long haul flights next month.

Bamboo Airways’ 787-9s

The airline currently has four Boeing 787-9s, which they’re just using to operate domestic flights within Vietnam.

Bamboo Airways’ 787-9s are really nice-looking, with reverse herringbone seats in business class.


Bamboo Airways business class


Bamboo Airways business class


Bamboo Airways business class

When the airline first took delivery of the 787-9 it was believed that these planes would also feature first class. However, as it turns out, their first few 787s won’t have first class, while the ones delivered later on allegedly will.

I’m still curious what their first class will look like, since pictures and details haven’t been revealed, other than that there will be four seats.

Bottom line

Bamboo Airways will be launching flights to Prague as of late next month, which will mark their first long haul route. That’s an exciting development, though their premium fares seem rather high, given the circumstances.

I hope to try Bamboo Airways eventually, and I’m curious to see how their big expansion goals work out. Vietnam is a low yield, largely leisure, destination, so the concept of another long haul airline from there seems puzzling on the surface.

Comments
  1. If they can get a codeshare in order with a couple of major European airlines, then I think this route could work very well. Might be a little hard if they leave it purely as a point to point flight.

  2. They basically consider Vietnamese traveling, not western people so of course you don’t understand their plan and intention.
    If they fly directly to US, EVA would be hurt very badly.

  3. @ Creditian — Just because they’re targeting Vietnamese people rather than western people doesn’t mean I can’t understand their plan. Keep in mind that Vietnam Airlines has repeatedly said that they’d lose money flying to the US, as they do on many of their long haul routes. So what would make Bamboo Airways more successful?

  4. If the primary market is Vietnamese, then they can put the seat pitch at 25in, or 63cm, and nobody will complain.

  5. Every year, Prague Airport publishes a list of top unserved routes. These are top destinations that people from PRG fly to, but where no direct flight exists. Of course, this only accounts for people traveling on a single connected itinerary, not on separate tickets, but it’s still a fairly accurate metric. Here’s the list: https://www.prg.aero/en/node/5156

    HAN has steadily risen to the top of that list in the recent years, and that’s due to several factors:
    – Locals fly more than ever before. PRG hit close to 18M passengers in 2019 (overwhelmingly O&D traffic), and has been growing for seven years in a row, from 11M in 2013.
    – The Czech Vietnamese diaspora has become better off, and can now afford to travel to Vietnam more regularly.
    – Vietnam has become a popular tourist destination in the recent years.
    – There are now more intense business ties, as mentioned in the article.

    Assuming Bamboo doesn’t get slaughtered on fares by EK/QR/MU/3U, they should do fine.

  6. 100,000 travellers between the two cities Vs 70,000 diaspora in Prague is pretty impressive, no?
    As other posters have pointed out, PRG-HAN is currently way underserved. The only real options are QR, EK, and Aeroflot (! plus SkyTeam codeshares). I suspect a direct routing by a Vietnamese airline would go down very well with leisure, and possibly business, travellers, and it is almost surprising that Vietnam Airlines haven’t done it first.

  7. There’s a large Vietnamese diaspora on the US west coast so it is possible that Bamboo could tap into that market if they are careful and don’t run before they can walk.

    Now can we please book a flight without needing a Vietnamese card Bamboo?

  8. I’m Czech, we have huge Vietnamese population who are actually richer than regular Czech people and also Vietnam is no. 1 ‘exotic’ destination where Czechs travel to, especially young people. The route has been rumoured for years and is regularly mentioned in local press like ‘starting in 2020’ since like 2 years ago. PRG management has been trying to make this route work since as long as I can remember so I’m sure they’ll even get a good offer on slots&discounts on landing fees

  9. @eskimo, Yes. He is super racist. You’re doing a good job at being insulted just because you can, the world’s favorite pastime nowadays.
    By the way, did you know that the word ‘eskimo’ is a derogatory term for Inuit and Yupik people? Who’s the real racist here?

    On topic: if they find a code share partner in Europe or if they sell connections to other destinations from their base in Hanoi, then I think this will work very well. Already 100.000 people traveling between Prague and Vietnam will only increase if the threshold (either via lower prices or via cutting mandatory connections or via offering a Vietnamese product) is lowered or if people get more pecunia to spend on this kind of trips. I travel to the Czech Republic quite often and I think the number of people with Vietnamese roots will increase, as a lot of them seem to have quite a few children.

    I hope for a code share partner in Europe. Prague airport is small and efficient and a good place to connect, generally.

  10. Vietnam compare to many other Asian countries has limited direct flights to Europe. For many years, London, Paris and Frankfurt are the only Western European airports offering this route by Vietnam Airlines.
    Having additional routes is definitely needed for the destination. It will without any doubt attract a lot of Travellers and not only Vietnamese or Check. Prague is well located in Central Europe with easy access. Eastern German might prefer taking their flight from Prague rather than Frankfurt. Polish Travellers which are growing significantly in Vietnam will also see it positively, etc.
    Despite Vietnam is offering visa free for 15 days to a large number of nationalities, the destination is still suffering from the limited number of international direct flights outside Asia. There is without any doubt needs for more direct routes to/from US and Europe.
    @Ben, Vietnam Airlines does not offer direct flights to US, thus they cannot lose money on this segment.

    Finally, I have just experienced Bamboo Airways services domestically. Their services were really good for amazing cheap price. On top of it, the flight was perfectly on time which is quite an important challenge in Vietnam.

  11. @eskimo it’s not racist to refer to a group of people who are shorter. Filipinos , Indonesians and Bolivians on average ,the shortest people in the world

  12. Pricing seems off. This is a highly price sensitive segment and you can get cheaper deals on legacy European carriers.

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