Vietnam Airlines gets stock exchange green light to list
The Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange has given approval to the country’s biggest carrier, Vietnam Airlines, to list its shares.
The airlines' 1.4 billion shares are currently traded on the Unlisted Public Company Market (UPCoM), where it closed at VND40,900 ($1.8) last Friday, meaning it is worth around $2.5 billion.
Last year its chief executive, Duong Tri Thanh, had said the carrier plans to list in the Ho Chi Minh City bourse in the first quarter of 2019, but added the final decision rests with the government.
The government owns around 86 percent of Vietnam Airlines, but has said it wants to reduce this to 51 percent by 2020.
Vietnam Airlines earned record revenues of VND96.8 trillion ($4.17 billion) last year, up 17 percent from 2017. Pre-tax profit was VND3.24 trillion ($140 million), 34 percent above the target.
It aims to achieve consolidated revenues of VND112 trillion ($4.83 billion) this year and plans to add 22 new airplanes (two Airbus A350s and 20 Airbus A321neos) to expand its fleet to 112.
The country’s largest airline by passengers has been facing rising competition from private budget carrier VietJet and others like the latest player Bamboo Airways.
With the domestic market showing signs of saturation, Vietnam Airlines eyes overseas expansion. It said recently it is considering buying at least two new long-range Boeing jets in preparation for beginning a service from HCMC to Los Angeles or San Francisco in the U.S. in 2020.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted a Category 1 rating to Vietnam in February, allowing the country’s airlines to fly directly to the U.S.
Vietnam has become the world's fifth fastest growing aviation market, and is expected to reach 150 million passengers by 2035, according to the International Air Transport Association.