All Nippon Airways (ANA) has signed a memorandum of understanding to buy an 8.8 per cent stake in Vietnam Airlines for VND2.4 billion (US$108 million). The move is part of ANA’s strategy of investing in the fast-growing Southeast Asian aviation sector, which in 2013 saw the Japanese carrier take a 49 per cent share in Myanmar’s Asian Wings Airways, which was subsequently cancelled. It has also teamed up with Thailand’s Nok Air to open a pilot training school in Bangkok.
“Asia is a key growth market for ANA Group as we expand our international footprint, and Vietnam Airlines makes the ideal partner for us because we share the same high standards and approach to customer service and efficiency,” said Shinya Katanozaka, CEO of ANA Holdings in a statement. “We look forward to completing this strategic investment and launching our partnership so we can serve our passengers even better.”
The agreement will help the two carriers take “maximum advantage” of air traffic growth between Japan and the Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, the duo said. The 8.8 per cent stake is significantly less than the 20 per cent Vietnam Airlines had stated it was seeking to sell to a strategic investor as part of its larger privatisation drive.
Subject to regulatory approval in both countries, the MoU will see the ANA Group take a seat on Vietnam Airlines’ board. In addition, ANA will assist the Vietnamese carrier with “operational and management knowhow to help support service quality.” The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016.
The Vietnamese state-owned carrier operates 66 flights weekly on ten routes between Japan and Vietnam, while ANA operates 14 flights on two routes. The two carriers are members of different alliances – ANA with the Star Alliance and Vietnam Airlines with SkyTeam – and no mention of codesharing or interlining between the two carriers was mentioned.
Despite the MOU, the two carriers are part of different alliances: ANA is part of Star Alliance, while Vietnam Airlines is part of SkyTeam. The statement makes no mention of codesharing or interlining between the two carriers.