Controversial low-cost Vietnamese airline Vietjet Air also known as ‘bikini airline’ has announced direct flights between Vietnam’s capital Ho Chi Minh City and New Delhi starting in July this year. The airline had courted controversy in 2012, after it started to publish an annual calendar featuring bikini-clad models dressed as flight attendants, pilots as well as ground staff. It has also drawn flak for its on-board “fashion shows” featuring models in swimsuits walking down the aisle. Even as the airline says that they will launch direct flights between New Delhi and Ho Chi Minh City later this year in July, we take a closer look at 4 key details.
Plans announced at Vietnam–India Business Forum
The budget airline had announced it’s plan to connect India at the Vietnam–India Business Forum on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of India-Vietnam diplomatic relationship. According to the currently available details, the airline will operate four flights between Vietnam’s capital Ho Chi Minh City and New Delhi every week starting in July-18.
Run by Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao- billionaire woman entrepreneur
The airline was founded by Vietnam’s first self-made woman billionaire Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao. Phuong Thao has an-eye popping net-worth of $3.4 billion according to Forbes, and ranks as the second richest person in Vietnam. Apart from running the carrier, she also has investments in HD Bank and real estate including three beach resorts.
While Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao has defended the marketing controversies of the company such as calendar and fashion shows saying that they are “empowering images in Vietnam’s conservative culture,” the airline has attracted a lot of negative publicity. According to a report in The Sun, the airline had been fined £678.20 for risking air safety by organising in-flight beauty pageant. Speaking to Reuters, Luu Duc Khanh, VietJet’s managing director said that they are not upset with people associating the airline with the bikini image. “If that makes people delighted and happy, then we’ll be happy,” he told Reuters.
The company has seen tremendous growth since 2011, and in the latest quarter, reported pre-tax profit of 4.76 trillion dong($209.10 million) last year, up by a whopping 75.9 percent. According to a Reuters report, the company, has a fleet of 55 A320 and A321 aircraft, now operates 385 flights on 82 domestic and international routes.