The arrival of two new Vietnamese carriers Air Mekong and Blue Sky Air is expected to stir up competition in the domestic market, which is currently overloaded.

Air Mekong , Vietnam's third private air carrier, is scheduled to launch its maiden flight on October 10.

The airline has received delivery of four Canadian Bombardier CRJ 900 aircraft, owned by the US company Skywest Leasing. Each aircraft has 90 business and economy-class seats.

Truong Thanh Vu, Air Mekong’s Commercial Director, said that his airline is currently waiting for its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Administration.

Air Mekong is scheduled to provide passenger and cargo services on routes from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to Da Nang , Nha Trang, Da Lat, Phu Quoc, Con Dao, Ban Me Thuot, Hai Phong and Vinh.

Meanwhile, Blue Sky Air, Vietnam’s first joint private airline, will focus on services for industry, the agricultural and fisheries sector and the construction industry. It has been allowed to use helicopters, seaplanes and other kinds of airplanes.

Blue Sky already operates two airplanes and will gradually increase its fleet to meet the market’s demand. The carrier is registered to provide services on 20 routes to well-known Vietnamese commercial and tourist areas such as Vung Tau, Ninh Thuan, Dak Lak, Con Dao, Can Tho, Ca Mau and Phu Quoc.

Around 26.2 million passengers and 445,800 tonnes of cargo were transported by air in 2009, four times the number in 2000.

In the first seven months of this year, the country saw a 33 percent increase in air travel over the same period last year.

This number indicates that Vietnam’s air market has grown rapidly.

Vietnam has to date granted licences to nine operational airlines, including Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific Airlines, Vasco, Viet Air, Indochina Airlines, Mekong Air, VietJet Air, Blue Sky Air and Trai Thien Air.

Of these airlines, Vasco and Viet Air are both subsidiaries of Vietnam Airlines and Trai Thien Air only provides cargo services.

The national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines holds more than 80 percent of all domestic services, which is attributed to the overloading of the domestic market, particularly the routes from HCM City to Phu Quoc and Da Nang./.