According to the Nikkei Asian Review, Vietnam’s largest private airline – VietJet – was named the second most valuable airline in Southeast Asia by market capitalization.
The Vietnamese low cost carrier – valued at USD $3.2 billion – trails far behind the most valuable carrier which happens to be Singapore Airlines at USD $8.9 billion but larger than the market cap for Malaysian-based AirAsia.
VietJet serves one of the fastest growing aviation markets in Asia, which competes with two main local rivals – Vietnam Airlines and its low-cost arm Jetstar Pacific. This has helped the airline to grow.
Founed in 2007, the first flights were delayed as it sought government approval which didn’t happen until 2011. Initially operating domestic flights, it began international operations in 2013 with flights from Ho Chi Minh to Bangkok. Within the last few years, it has been the focal point of controversy in the skies.
The airline has been known for having flight attendants dressed in bikinis and releasing calendars with bikini-clad women. The moves have been defended by the airline’s founder, Nguyen Thi Phuong – Vietnam’s first female billionaire and one of a few women running an airline in the world.
"There are only three airlines in Vietnam, and that arrangement facilitates profit generation domestically," a representative at an international brokerage told the Nikkei Asia Review.
VietJet operates 60 Airbus jets and is undergoing a fleet expansion with up to 324 narrow-body Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A321neo jets expected to be delivered over the next few years. The airline is looking to grow its route network that has 385 flights to regional destinations such as Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore.