Vietjet Air will become the first Vietnamese carrier to launch a direct flight to India after receiving permission this week.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has approved the budget carrier’s request based on an air transport agreement between Vietnam and India signed in 2013.
The airline has not announced when it would launch the first flight.
The number of Indian tourists to Vietnam remains low compared to other Asian countries like China and South Korea, with only 130,000 arrivals in 2018. But the year-on-year growth was a whopping 30 percent.
China and South Korea are Vietnam’s top feeder markets with 4.9 million and 3.4 million visitors last year respectively.
India is one of Vietnam’s top 10 trading partners. Bilateral trade reached $10.69 billion last year, a two-fold increase against 2016, according to Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade.
Vietjet Air had last year stated that it planned to launch a direct air route connecting the country’s business hub Ho Chi Minh City to New Delhi to meet the growing overseas travel demand of Vietnamese holiday-goers. However, no flights have taken off so far.
Indian budget carrier Indigo Airlines had recently stated that it plans to launch daily direct flights between India’s Kolkata City and Hanoi from October 3.
Vietnam first allowed foreign tourists to apply for a visa online in February 2017, starting with 40 countries including China, South Korea and the U.S. In December that year six countries were added to the list, including Australia and India.
Vietnam’s aviation industry has been growing at the third fastest pace in the Asia-Pacific, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It welcomed 12.5 million air passengers last year, up 14.4 percent from 2017, the General Statistics Office reported.
Vienam’s five airlines are Vietnam Airlines, its low-cost carrier Jetstar Pacific, budget airline Vietjet Aviation, Bamboo Airways and Vietnam Air Services Co.
According to Mastercard, Vietnam has the second fastest growing outbound market in the Asia Pacific region after Myanmar, with a projected annual growth of 9.5 percent between 2016 and 2021.
Mastercard has forecast that 7.5 million Vietnamese travelers will travel outside the country in 2021.
The capital city Hanoi was recently named among the top 15 destinations in the world by TripAdvisor travelers. It is also on top of the list of most affordable destinations in the world, with backpackers needing just $18.29 a day, according to the 2019 Backpacker Index formulated by Price of Travel, the world’s largest database of travel costs.