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Lao Central Airlines Ready For Takeoff

Fledgling airline Lao Central Airlines Public Company (LCA) wasted no time in getting off the ground after taking delivery of its second jet on December 27 and ran a special flight from Vientiane to Luang Prabang last Friday.

Company CEO Ms Savanhphone Phongsavanh, said the special trip, whose passengers included 99 monks and visitors, flew on the airline’s 168-seater Boeing 737-400, just a few days after its arrival at Wattay International Airport.

The trip also marked the end of 2011 and celebrated the New Year. The airline will organise a similar trip this month, from Vientiane to Pakxe district in Champassak province.

Lao Central Airlines took delivery of its first aircraft in October, which is parked at Wattay International Airport while an official flight schedule is drawn up. Airline board member Mr Thongsay Inthisane said “We will officially launch or take to the skies after the tour to Pakxe.” The airline will soon announce its official opening, “which may be by end of this month,” Mr Thongsay said.

Flights cannot be offered yet because more time is needed to prepare ticket sales and organise services management, but now that it has two planes, as required by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the airline can offer flights at any time.

The first flight will be from Vientiane-Bangkok, and will be followed up by flights to Cambodia, China, Vietnam and Singapore, if existing plans are followed. After that, all of the Asean countries are possibilities.

Ms Savanhphone said the airline now has four aircraft and will purchase more in the near future.

The four aircraft are the two Boeing 737-400s, which will be used mainly for international services, “and two 19-seater aircraft that will mainly serve the domestic market,” Mr Thongsay said.

The airline also expects to take delivery of nine Russian jets this year. LCA will be the first privately owned company in Laos to operate medium sized jets catering to the domestic market.

LCA was formerly known as Phongsavanh Airlines Public Company but management changed the name to something they felt would be more recognisable both locally and abroad. The new name will ensure that people know the airline is Lao and operates out of Laos.

The national carrier, Lao Airlines, recently purchased its first two 142-seater jet aircraft, which it is now operating on flights to Luang Prabang in Laos, Kunming in China, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Singapore, and Bangkok in Thailand.

Lao Airlines expects to add at least two more jet aircraft to its fleet in 2014, to serve longer haul routes such as Japan, Republic of Korea, and Guangzhou in China.

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 Source: Vientiane Times