Vietjet Air adds new stimulus for growth of aviation in the region

November 03, 2018 | 11:30
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Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, president and CEO of Vietjet Air, was one of the key speakers at the 18th Forbes Global CEO Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand on October 30-31, 2018.

This annual event is attended by some 400 global CEOs, tycoons, entrepreneurs, up-and-comers, capitalists, and thought leaders to discuss and debate key issues of global concern and build new partnerships.

Under the theme of “The World Reboots,” this year’s conference focused on how CEOs, companies, and countries are confronting challenges and seizing opportunities arising from accelerating disruption.

Among the highlights of this year’s conference, the president and CEO of Vietjet Air delivered a keynote address in front of an audience of global business luminaries and thought leaders when asked about the competition between the state-owned and private sectors in Vietnam.

In her speech, the CEO confirmed that the appearance of Vietjet Air in the aviation industry did not challenge other airlines, but in fact, “Vietjet Air's entry was a driving force that has fundamentally changed the market to be more attractive, more exciting, and more developed than ever.”

vietjet air adds new stimulus for growth of aviation in the region
On October 31, Vietjet Air CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao appeared charmingly in traditional Vietnamese ao dai as the key speaker at the Hyperdrive panel of the Forbes Global CEO conference

At the Hyperdrive panel, the female Vietnamese billionaire took her place in a lineup of distinguished speakers, including Goodwin Gaw, managing principal and chairman of Gaw Capital Partners; William E. Heinecke, chairman and Group CEO of Minor International; Mario Moretti Polegato, Chairman of GEOX Group; and Tan Hooi Ling, cofounder of Grab, to participate in an inspired group discussion on the new and exciting subject of ‘Hyperdrive.’

The name of this panel – hyperdrive – is the imagined ability to move faster than the speed of light. Yet in today’s rebooting world, entrepreneurs can succeed, or fail, at almost-unreal speed. Hyperdrive also describes their passion, vision, and energy to be the best and succeed in a volatile and ultra-competitive business environment.

vietjet air adds new stimulus for growth of aviation in the region
As the only Vietnamese speaker at the conference, Thao shared stories about Vietjet Air’s business and the future management plans for her group of entrepreneurs under the Hyperdrive force.

Simple stories won CEO hearts

This was not the first time the stories of the momentous change of plans for Vietjet Air was recounted, yet her story about an old farmer who wished to fly still won the hearts of all 400 leaders present.

The story took place when Thao joined a charity tour to a distant rural area, where she was told by an old woman that she could not dare to dream of flying in her lifetime. Air transportation at the time was still a luxury to Vietnamese people and a farmer had to sell several tonnes of rice to be able to buy an air ticket. This simple story changed Thao and her team’s mind to build a 6-star royal airline and build a “consumer airline” instead.

“Fulfilling the dream to fly of 99 per cent of the Vietnamese population at the time was our motivation,” Thao said.

“In the past century, when I was still in the trading business, I started using air cargo while others were using railway, and I could transport dozens of containers at the same time instead of just one or two. It was also an entire week faster and cheaper,” she shared.

At the time, the flight routes in Europe were dense and convenient, which inspired her dream to build out a similar buzzing eco-system of routes in Vietnam and the region so that flying could become commonplace like taking the bus.

Vietnam has a population of approximately 100 million people and reports the highest GDP per capita growth in the Asia-Pacific. However, seven-eight years ago, only 1 per cent of the population could afford air travel.

With Vietnam’s geographical features, approximately 50 per cent of the world’s population lives within a 5-6-hour flight radius from Vietnam, indicating the potential size of the regional aviation market. Thus, “We also bring the chance to fly to millions of people in many countries with 103 routes, two-thirds of which are international,” she stressed.

vietjet air adds new stimulus for growth of aviation in the region
The Vietjet Air CEO frankly shared that she did not see it a challenge to compete with state-owned airlines.

The fierce, but fair world of business

Since Vietjet Air launched its first flight, more than 30 per cent of its customers are first-time flyers. The Vietnamese aviation sector has the highest growth rate in the Asia-Pacific and Vietjet Air has contributed 70 per cent to this growth.

“We do not take anybody's customers, but prioritise reaching out to new customers and opening new routes that have not been exploited yet. We have created a new customer force for the aviation industry,” Thao emphasised.

Indeed, the Vietnamese aviation industry is continuously growing at an average rate of nearly 20 per cent per annum, and Vietjet Air contributes 70 per cent of this growth. “We are proud to be the driving force for innovation across the aviation industry, from policy, legislation to new investment programmes, and continually expanding airports,” she said.

Vietjet Air’s growth means growth for all related services like ground services, fuel, and training, just to name a few. The innovation of the industry has strongly increased the profits and capitalisation of aviation companies, including state-owned airlines.

vietjet air adds new stimulus for growth of aviation in the region
At the Hyperdrive panel, the Vietjet Air CEO shared her ambition to build a “consumer airline,” a dynamic innovative airline that meets all demands of passengers through IT solutions

Consumer airline

“Our inspiration comes from the desire to create new products and new values for the society, as well as the determination to create and lead new consumer trends. Aviation brings innovation and civilisation for people, especially those who live in remote areas,” the Vietjet Air CEO told.

According to her, they chose to develop a low cost airline to foster travel by air among the people. Vietjet Air set itself apart through its low-cost model while offering enjoyable flights with fresh services, fresh food, soft leather seats, beautiful attendants, as well as unforgettable in-flight experiences for passengers.

“Our strategy is to develop an airline that serves all consumer needs on an e-commerce platform that connects a diverse array of services across the globe, which we call a ‘consumer airline’,” she said.

Vietjet Air is the fastest airline in several aspects: it received the IOSA certificate (operation and safety) in three years, started earning profit in two years, and took over the domestic market in only four years. It has also received a 7 star safety rating – the highest available.

In Vietnam, Vietjet Air also pioneers the application of technology in commerce and the airline’s operations.

By Duc Hanh

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