Bamboo Airways, a rare "upstream” wings against the pandemic

January 04, 2021 | 17:43
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In 2020, Bamboo Airways exceeded last year's performance in both the number of flights and passengers by 10 per cent, taking the lead among the few airlines in the world to recover and outperform after the pandemic, with all the flights being safe and accident-free.
bamboo airways a rare upstream wings against the pandemic
Bamboo Airways passed the difficulties of 2020 with flying colours

“The worst year for the aviation sector” was how the CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) described the year 2020. Statistics have vividly demonstrated the validity of his statement.

Since the beginning of the year, passenger flights have dropped by 49 per cent on-year. What’s worse, passenger traffic declined by 67 per cent on-year, according to the statistics of Cirium, an organisation for aviation insight.

COVID-19 has evaporated $510 billion in revenue across the industry, taking away thousands of jobs. The number of "grounded" aircraft at busy hangars was unprecedented, even for experienced leaders of more than 40 years in Tarmac Aerosave, an aircraft maintenance company.

“The chance that airlines live through the pandemic is getting smaller,” was stated by the IATA in its late November report.

Yet, in a year of upheavals for most airlines in the world, a few players have still been spectacularly “going upstream”, thanks to their adaptability and sensitivity. New Vietnamese carrier Bamboo Airways has been one of these top performers.

Along with 10 per cent increases in the number of flights and passengers, all flights were conducted safely and accident-free. At present, the airline occupies a nearly 20 per cent market share.

Noticeably, compared to 2019, the number of pilots and cabin crews in 2020 jumped by 20 per cent while the total proportion of personnel has dwindled by 17 per cent.

In particular, thanks strict compliance with prevention regulations during and after flights, there were no cases of Bamboo Airways on-duty employees being infected with COVID-19 in 2020.

Maintaining operation: a non-negotiable target

According to statistics, 12 months of crises have wiped out more than 20 years of growth in the aviation sector and dwindled the global passenger airline traffic to 1999 levels.

In return, the startup mindset has given Bamboo Airways all the vital virtues for a well-rounded system that is resistant and resilient to changes.

As the chairman of Bamboo Airways Trinh Van Quyet once shared, from the preparatory stage to the official flight, it was not at all smooth sailing for Bamboo Airways. The circumstances have forged the human resources of Bamboo a courageous and daring spirit.

This resilience and strength is vividly proven through practice. The unexpected "hit" from COVID-19 at the end of February 2020 caused all airflows to decelerate, operating procedures to be disturbed, and passengers to be skeptical about travelling options.

After the first stage of analysis, Bamboo Airways has looked for options to adapt and maintain the apparatus in new conditions.

The company’s Board of Directors understand that the process of putting a machine from standing still into motion is much more strenuous than maintaining rolling inertia even if it encounters resistance. Therefore, the goal of maintaining and even expanding operations is the foremost priority under any circumstance.

bamboo airways a rare upstream wings against the pandemic
The crew of Bamboo Airways stands ready to provide exclusive services to passengers

Product system: ever-moving and ever-leading

Different scenarios for operation are planned in order to support the firm to be ready for any scenario. A series of cutting-edge products have been timely implemented.

To continue the success of FLC's all-inclusive flight-stay-golf package, Bamboo Airways has comprehensively upgraded all segments in 2020, in both scope and quality. The airline has also expanded its co-operation with many major partners who share mutual vision to exponentially increase the range of nationwide flight and holiday options.

In response to the new demand for flexible and economical traveling experience, the multi-functional Bamboo Flying Pass was launched. Four packages of the product offer various features, "plug" right into the needs of the target customers.

Instead of three traditional fares classes, a set of branded fares, inclusive of eight benefit groups were also deployed by Bamboo Airways. The fare structure is more specified, diverse, and grants more flexible and economical options for passengers during this sensitive period.

Having positive reviews, this pioneering product system is one of the few innovations that have become a trendsetter in the market, making an active contribution to "breaking the ice" for the whole tourism and travel industry in the post-pandemic period.

bamboo airways a rare upstream wings against the pandemic
Bamboo Airways has managed to keep staff and crew safe throughout the pandemic

Blue-ribbon customer service: the constant amid crisis

Along with the product, the focus on blue-ribbon customer service has been improved by Bamboo Airways in 2020. Bamboo Airways retained the throne for on-time performance for the second consecutive year. This is also the second year that Bamboo Airways has been voted "Asia's Leading Regional Airline".

The chain of business lounges – First Lounge by Bamboo Airways – was put into operation, pioneering the trend of synchronously setting up business lounges in potential airports across the country such as Ho Chi Minh City, Quy Nhon, and Ca Mau.

For that, Bamboo Airways has marked its name as the first private airline in Vietnam to operate its own Business Lounge.

Bamboo Airways' official ticket offices were opened in three regions; check-in services can be conducted right at FLC's resort complexes across the country; Bamboo Airways app was officially launched for mobile phones; and Bamboo Airways’ products and brands have reached more passengers through refined and convenient approaches.

Drastic expansion of fleet and flight network

Not only drastically expanding its fleet in 2020, Bamboo Airways also upgraded its quality.

From 19 aircraft at the end of 2019, the airline is now operating nearly 30 aircraft, including the most advanced aircraft in the world, Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and Embraer E195. These two remarkable new aircraft lines also laid Bamboo Airways’ first operational position of a private airline in Vietnam.

In the next few weeks, more new aircraft will be welcomed to the fleet, inking Bamboo Airways on a short list of airlines which continue expanding their fleet.

With the larger fleet, Bamboo Airways is leaving a mark with its flight routes, especially the first historic series of five non-stop flights connecting Con Dao with the rest of the country.

This flight network has put an end to a decade of shortcomings surrounding flights connecting Con Dao: scarcity of airline tickets, tiresome 6-8-hour connecting flights, limited choices, inconvenient travel times, lack of in-flight service and premium seats, or ground service facilities short of quality options.

With these direct flights, the average travel time from Hanoi to Con Dao has been shortened to just over two hours. Completing the high-end experience is the Business Lounge at Con Dao Airport, which was put into operation in 2020, making Bamboo Airways the first airline to operate a business lounge here. Passengers to Con Dao now have a wide variety of scheduled options and service levels.

According to the People's Committee of Con Dao Island District, this is an event that the government and people of Con Dao have been looking forward to, especially businesses that are investing in local tourism.

The extraordinary efforts from the young airline have demonstrated the remarkable resilience of Vietnam's aviation industry. The market and passengers can expect 2021 to be a year of "reversal", when the strong recovery and growth of the Vietnamese aviation industry will add vibrancy to the overall picture.

By Anh Duc

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