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Vietnam's FLC Group plans to lease seven planes from Airbus for new carrier

Vietnam's FLC Group plans to lease seven planes from Airbus for new carrier

A man passes a Vietnam property company, FLC Group, sign during an event in Singapore June 10, 2017. Photo by Reuters/Edgar Su

Vietnam property company, FLC Group, which aims to start a new airline that could take to the skies for the first time early next year, is working with Airbus to lease about seven aircraft by 2018, the company's chairman said on Saturday.

FLC's board decided in May to set up the new airline, called Bamboo Airways.

The new carrier will have a fleet of "about seven" aircraft by 2018, and its first flight could take place in early 2018, said Trinh Van Quyet, chairman of FLC Group.

"By 2018, it will be about seven...and the number would be increasing in the year after. We are now working with Airbus," Quyet told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a company road show in Singapore, adding they would be on lease.

"That carrier will serve our resorts in nine provinces in Vietnam. We will connect with international flights and we will carry them to our resorts," he said.

Vietnam now has four airlines: Vietnam Airlines, Vietjet Aviation, Jetstar Pacific Airlines and Vietnam Air Services Co.

FLC said in March it won provincial approval for a study to invest $2 billion in an entertainment complex in northern Quang Ninh province that could include resorts, hotels, a casino and golf course, among other services.

FLC plans to invest about $2.1 billion on the project, Quyet said. The provincial government has already suggested a location for the resort, which includes a casino, he added.

"We are working on the master plan now, and we are clearing the land," Quyet said, adding that it covered 1,700 hectares (4,200 acres).

FLC is part of a growing number of foreign and domestic investors betting on Vietnam's decision to allow citizens entry to its casinos, a lucrative market locked for years in a nation of passionate, yet clandestine gamblers on cards and soccer.

From mid-March, Vietnamese have been allowed to gamble in approved casinos and under certain conditions in a three-year pilot project announced in January. The government will review whether to retain the policy after three years.

There are fewer than 10 casinos in the country, all barred to Vietnamese. The change could make Vietnam an attractive destination for big gaming companies such as Las Vegas Sands, Genting Bhd, Nagacorp and Penn National Gaming, which have expressed interest.

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