Vietnam’s Air Mekong, 30 percent owned by U.S. regional airline SkyWest, on October 9 launched domestic services with four 86-seat Bombardier CRJ900s subleased from the St. George, Utah-based regional. The airline, aided with a $7 million investment by SkyWest and staffed with several pilots recruited from SkyWest subsidiary Atlantic Southeast Airlines, began flying to eight destinations including Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Phu Quoc, according to SkyWest vice president of finance and treasurer Mike Kraupp. Early this month it plans to add two more destinations to a schedule expected to cover between 28 and 30 flights a day.
Apart from SkyWest’s stake, the capital base of privately held Air Mekong consists of investments from Vietnamese businesses and individuals, said Kraupp.
SkyWest has sought opportunities outside the U.S. ever since it first invested $5 million in Brazil’s Trip Airlines in 2008. Six months later it invested another $15 million, and during the first quarter of this year it invested another $10 million in the airline, bringing its total ownership stake to 20 percent–the most it is permitted to own under Brazilian law. Trip flies ATR turboprops and Embraer E175 jets.