SERVING THE LAO PDR SINCE 1976 Founded in 1976 as the national carrier of the newly established Lao PDR, Lao Airlines was originally known as the Civil Aviation Company and was formed from the merger of existing airlines Royal Air Lao and Lao Air Lines. The company became Lao Aviation in 1979 and has operated under that identity right up to March this year. The Lao national carrier initially started life with a mixed fleet of Western aircraft, including the Douglas DC-3 and DC-4, operating on international and domestic routes, as well as a fleet of helicopters enabling access to the more remote regions. Reflecting the country's closer links with its Eastern neighbours, a re-equipment exercise was undertaken in the 1980s, with the fleet then primarily composed of aircraft from China and the Soviet Union. For international services to Bangkok, Hanoi and Phnom Penh these included the Antonov An-24.
The decision to upgrade to the newer generation of European turboprop aircraft being produced by ATR (Avions de Transport Régional) in France was taken in 1994, when the first 50-seat ATR42 entered service with the airline which is removed from the service on 1995 and immediately replacing by a first 70-seat ATR72 aircraft and the second on 1999, with both ATR’s forming the backbone of the carrier's fleet for international and major domestic services up to today. These highly reliable aircraft are complemented on routes to remote areas within the country by the Y-7 and Y-12, seating 50 and 17 passengers respectively. With the arrival of the A320, Lao Airlines is moving into a new phase of its development, offering passengers a faster, more comfortable link to the world. The aircraft will fly primarily on international services to Bangkok, Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Kunming.
Today the Lao Airlines network extends to six international destinations and six locations within the Lao PDR. New routes are planned for the future, including within the CLMV economic zone of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam, China as well as to Hong Kong and Singapore.