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Lao Central Set For Return To Skies

Lao Central Airlines will soon reopen for business after it temporarily halted flights in the middle of last year to improve services and management systems and study the possibility of expansion.

The airline called a temporary halt to operations after being in business for about two years, during which time it fully tested its services.

“The improvements we will introduce will include buying more aircraft, hiring pilots from Europe and making plans to build our own airport as AirAsia has done,” Phongsavanh Group Chairman Prof. Dr Od Phongsavanh said recently.

“The Lao government has agreed to our plans and will facilitate the project,” he added.

Lao Central Airlines, which is part of the Phongsavanh Group, was established in May 2010 with registered capital of 80 billion kip (US$10 million) to operate commercial air services both domestically and internationally.

It is currently expanding its fleet because Laos is now a member of the World Trade Organisation and the Asean Economic Community (AEC) will come into effect at the end of this year to boost regional economic integration.

It is the first private airline in Laos and has trialled flights and services for over two years, but it has not yet officially opened.

“The airline plans to buy eight Boeing 737 Max and another three or four 777-200 aircraft,” Prof. Dr Od said.

It also hopes to build its own airports in Laos and the government has agreed to the plan, with possible locations under study.

“According to the government plan, there should be an airport in almost every province within the next five years,” he said.

Lao Central Airlines CEO, Mr Somboun Phongsavanh, said “Currently we are undertaking studies seeking more information with the cooperation of foreign experts, mainly from British Airways and Germany’s Lufthansa, to help us identify our weak and strong points.”

“We do not yet know when the study will be complete,” Mr Somboun said.

The Lao government supports the existence of private airlines as that is helpful in preparations for the AEC, especially for improved connectivity with Thailand.

Lao Central Airlines Public Company (as it expects to be called after listing on the Lao stock exchange) plans to partner with Khon Kaen Airport on flights to facilitate tourism between Khon Kaen, Vientiane, Da Nang in Vietnam, and Siem Reap in Cambodia.

“We hope to have Khon Kaen, Vientiane and Luang Prabang as air transport hubs,” Prof. Dr Od said.

The Phongsavanh Group is a leading group of companies in Laos with successful enterprises in international trading, timber, hotels, telecommunications, petrol supply, and security products. The Group received a licence to set up the first privately owned bank in Laos, and offers excellent service to individuals, small companies, large corporate customers, and government agencies.

Source: Vientiane Times