Private airline Air Mekong, which suspended flights a year ago, has announced it will resume flights starting in early 2015, the Vietnam Investment Review reported on May 19.

Late last week the Ministry of Transportation (MoT) officially extended the business certificate for Air Mekong to the end of December this year, by that time it must resume operations.

VIR quoted Pham Quy Tieu, Deputy Minister of the MoT as saying that “Its certificate will be revoked if it doesn’t start flying again by the new deadline. The ministry has assigned the Transportation Agency and Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam (CAAV) to prepare administrative procedures for revoking its certificate if this deadline is not met.”

The warning is in accordance with Vietnam’s aviation regulations, which stipulate that an airline’s licence will be withdrawn if it suspends commercial flights for more than a year.

In late April the CAAV submitted Air Mekong’s proposal for a six-month extension on its licence to the MoT.

The airline received its licence in December 2008 and is a subsidiary of Quang Ninh-headquartered Ha Long Investment and Development Company, better known as BIM Group, and is the second private airline to take flight in the Vietnam market, after Indochina Airlines, which went bankrupt a year after opening.

Air Mekong started commercial flights in 2010, with 13 domestic routes flown by four Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft, and ran until March 1, 2013, when it announced it was suspending flights to develop its fleet. Its aircraft operator certificate became void early last month.

At present, Air Mekong is stepping up to totally restructure to change into a cheap airline focus on long airline including international airline. The company planned to sell ticket in 2014’s third quarter and start flying again in early next year.

It has been reported that Air Mekong is currently deciding between purchases of Airbus 320s or Boeing 737-800s to replace its unpopular Bombardier aircraft.

Doan Quoc Viet, Chairman of Air Mekong, told VIR last February that the company decided the time had come again to start flying for two reasons. The first was improvement of both the domestic and global economy that has brought financially strong potential investors to the table. The second was the sharp uptrend of the Vietnamese aviation market, which bodes well for smaller additional operators.

According to the CAAV, last year Vietnam’s aviation market saw rocketing growth of 21 percent on-year.

If Air Mekong follows through on its plan to resume operations in 2015, with only six aircrafts it will be the smallest airline in Vietnam.-VNA