Bamboo Airways axes Australian flights

The Vietnamese carrier will no longer fly to Sydney or Melbourne as it enters ‘shrink to survive’ mode.

By Staff Writers, October 23 2023
Bamboo Airways axes Australian flights

Bamboo Airways has made an abrupt exit from Australian skies and sacked all its local staff as the struggling airline moves into “long-term restructuring”.

The carrier launched an aggressive push into Australia in early 2022 with direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City, along with Melbourne to Hanoi, however those routes are now showing as “No flights found” and “All flights unavailable” on the Bamboo Airways website.

In a post on LinkedIn over the weekend, former National Sales Manager Australia & New Zealand, Brad Crawford, said “It is with a heavy heart that I advise all Bamboo Airways Australia staff have been made redundant including my National Sales Manager role.”

Other international routes being abandoned include London and Frankfurt, which like Sydney and Melbourne relied on Bamboo Airways’ Boeing 787 jets.

The well-appointed Dreamliners boasted a modern business class based upon the same Collins ‘Super Diamond’ platform as  Air Canada’s Boeing 787 Signature ClassFiji Airways’ A350 business class, and of course, Virgin Australia’s now-defunct ‘The Business’ cabin.

Bamboo Airways' Boeing 787 business class.
Bamboo Airways' Boeing 787 business class.

However, the carrier is now set to downsize to a fleet of single-aisle jets focussed on “key domestic routes” such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, along with “tourist routes with high demand and international routes to Southeast Asia.”

statement published on the Bamboo Airways website cited “long-term restructuring to rebuild the airline more efficiently and streamlined (to) enhance the company’s competitiveness, capacity, and autonomy.”

“Regarding the fleet, Bamboo Airways has been actively discussing and negotiating with partners to redesign the appropriate structure and size, prioritizing economy (and) uniformly standardizing aircraft configuration.”

“For the route network, Bamboo Airways has improved commercial efficiency by reducing the frequency of a number of inefficient routes with low passenger demand while increasing operation on routes recording high demand.”

“This set of solutions has enabled Bamboo Airways to chart a new, suitable course for its operations in late 2023 and early 2024.”

Bamboo Airlines has been approached for further comment; the airline has yet to advise passengers and travel agents how refunds for the cancelled flight will be processed.

Sharp prices, high hopes...

When Executive Traveller flew on Bamboo Airways from Sydney to Ho Chi Minh City in May 2022, highlights included the "competitive fares, friendly service (and) mountains of food."

Speaking at the launch of the Melbourne-Hanoi route, Deputy General Director of Bamboo Airways Truong Phuong Thanh said the airline intended to "further expand the non-stop flight network to other destinations in Australia, and to connect Australia with countries in Europe and Asia through Vietnam as a transport hub."

Bamboo Airways hoped to capitalise on a fast-growing market and what was one of Asia's most popular tourism destinations prior to the pandemic, while also serving the large Vietnamese population in Sydney and Melbourne.

But trouble has been brewing for some time, with the carrier not only struggling to fix its bottom line after posting significant losses in 2022 but seeing the departure of around 10% of its pilot base in recent months. Four of its five directors also resigned in June.

Rival low-cost airline Vietjet has no doubt added to Bamboo’s woes since its Australian debut in April. Initially connecting Sydney and Melbourne to Ho Chi Minh City, VietJet has since added flights to Brisbane, with Perth and Adelaide ready to take wing next month.

Additional reporting by Chris Ashton

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Aug 2015

Total posts 53

That's a real airline? Never heard of them lol, ahh well no great loss then.

23 Oct 2023

Total posts 2

Flew them recently on a short-haul flight and couldn't fault them. Was a little surprised however when they offered a full meal for a two-hour flight. A nice surprise given what we are used to in Australia, but perhaps this could be an expense that is spared?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2016

Total posts 162

I did HAN-DAD a couple of weeks ago and can't complain about 2x2 J class, a snack (2.45pm, between services) reasonable lounge with good food (although only beer for Alcoholic drinks), much better than VN for the same route

 ... I do note that the status match they previously advertised for my SQ Gold was very hard to find and had lots of dead links, so I didn't bother, looks like it would have been a waste anyway.

11 Oct 2023

Total posts 4

I have 4 business class tickets to Frankfurt for December booked 4 months ago. 🙃 oh well

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2016

Total posts 162

Do you get AFTA protection if it was an Australian website? Or is it just a (useless) credit

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 Nov 2011

Total posts 25

I feel badly for the staff and pilots who are likely to lose their jobs but in reading this I cannot help but wonder, are Qantas going to go after some of these lightly used GEnx powered 787s?  I believe 3 had been delivered with a further 7 ordered.  Not sure how tight fleet planning is at Qantas right now but with talk of starting PER-JNB and PER-CDG, increasing JFK flying I wonder if they will snap up a few of these birds.  

24 Oct 2020

Total posts 4

It seems to me that Bamboo Airways Exec's far too soon, eyed off a bigger slice of the world's Airline Industry's profit pie than they could swallow.  Small consolidative steps & a copious amounts of patience, enable 2 things.  1): A small industry player to remain solvent.  2): Growth & profitability may be slow, but their trajectory will angle Northward.

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 177

That;s the nature of the beast today unfortunately - milk it while you can and run off when the boat springs a leak. This is why the worlds economy is in such a mess. The old belief in building slowly and steadily is dying out - workers are only in it for the quick cash now with no responsibility taken.

I also believe Bamboo's marketing could have been much better as I and many others seem to know little to nothing about their operations, this is where a large part of the problem may also lie.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 692

I'm actually surprised that they lasted this long.

It didn't help that their CEO was arrested in March for 'market manipulation' offences - and HCM to London route was very quietly dropped in mid October. They have also allegedly been tardy on paying staff and some pilots have been waiting for more than a month for payment, after their salaries were due. This has also caused an exodus of staff (both pilot and cabin crew). Bamboo has been somewhat close-chested' on their USA services, advising passengers that all flights are 'wiped' from the end of October-beginning November, but not advising of alternate travel arrangements or indeed outright refunds for existing passengers. It is suggested that Bamboo here locally began notifying MEL-based passengers last week, with a similar modus-operandi.

Whilst their service was initially lauded as being very good to excellent, recent reports (on international routes) have been less than glowing, suggesting some problems. And those 3 B787-9 airframes? Apparently they are all leased, and one is in the process of being returned. Reports suggest that negotiations are taking place in regard to the remaining two frames. Despite the optimism of the management's re-organisation plan based on domestic and close-Asian neighbour countries served by narrow bodied aircraft, my crystal ball suggests that there will probably be a cancellation notice coming Boeing's way for the 10 additional on-order B787-9's, given the current developments.

Yes, I also feel sorry for the staff and for passengers having their plans up-routed, but in reality, Bamboo's plan to take on a strong set of competitors on a basically LCC dominated market (Vietnam Air, Jetstar, VietJet plus all the one-stop options to Australia was certainly 'very brave'. But this is not the first time this has happened in the Vietnamese market - one only has to look at what happened when Jetstar Pacific (which was quite profitable) was handed back and turned into loss-making Pacific Airlines. It seems that the market is not yet mature - at least at a regulatory level.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 323

Basically another one of those hybrids in the Asia-Pacific region, like Batik Air Malaysia/Indonesia and Virgin Australia.  Due to their well document troubles, as well as 'expanding too quickly' post-COVID that got them into trouble, it was probably for the best that they concentrate being a Domestic Carrier with some short-haul International services.

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