Japan’s ANA Holdings has acquired of an 8.8% stake in Vietnam Airlines and unveiled plans for a major operating partnership.
The equity deal, which is worth VND2.43 trillion (US$107.4 million), marks the completion of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) first signed in January 2016. ANA is scheduled to take up its shares in July, and will also have a presence on Vietnam Airlines’ board of directors.
Vietnam Airlines is a state-owned company and ANA’s investment in the national carrier becomes the first by an international company.
“Finding a partner for business and capital tie-up is a key part in the effort of Vietnam Airlines to improve and increase competitiveness on international markets,” explained Pham Ngoc Minh, president & CEO of Vietnam Airlines. “The cooperation with ANA… will help us to be more confident to upgrade fleet with newest generation aircraft, to expand the market, to improve service quality and to achieve higher efficiency.”
In the immediate future, ANA’s investment will see the two airlines join forces on several routes. Starting on 30 October 2016, a new codeshare agreement will cover 30 major domestic routes within Japan and Vietnam and 10 international routes between the two countries. This partnership will also allow members of both carriers’ frequent flyers programmes to earn miles on these routes.
In future, the two Asian airlines also plan to collaborate in a range of areas, including joint passenger check-in facilities, cargo loading, ground handling services, catering and aircraft maintenance, in both Japan and Vietnam.
ANA said that Vietnam is among “a core group of Southeast Asian countries” that it considers to have high growth potential.
“Under its mid-term business strategy, ANA Group is working to expand into new growth areas and invest strategically in Asia, principally through airline-related businesses,” the company stated.
ANA has also identified Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar and potential areas of investment, and it previously secured a US$25m deal to acquire 49% of Myanmar’s Asian Wings Airways, although this was later cancelled.
Already Japan’s largest airline in terms of revenue, fleet size and passenger numbers, ANA states that its official goal to be “the world’s leading airline group in customer satisfaction and value creation”.