September 06, 2016

European manufacturer Airbus has announced or finalised the sale of aircraft worth an estimated $US6.5 billion in deals with Vietnam’s major carriers.

Vietjet placed a firm order with Airbus for 10 A321ceo (current engine option) and 10 of the more advanced A321neo aircraft to meet expected growth on its domestic and regional network.

At the same time, Vietnam Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for 10 additional A350-900 aircraft to be used on non-stop flights to the US.

And the manufacturer finalised a previously announced purchase agreement with Jetstar Pacific for 10 A320ceo planes, marking the first direct purchase of planes from Airbus by the joint venture between Qantas and Vietnam Airlines.

The announcements came as Airbus chief executive Fabrice Brégier visited Vietnam and met Vietnam’s president, Tran Dai Quang as well as the chief executives of the airlines.

Vietjet has been flying since 2011 and currently has a fleet of 40 Airbus aircraft. The most recent announcement means it has now placed firm orders with Airbus for 54 A320s and 65 A321s.

Airbus also finalised a deal to provide the carrier with training services for flight crew and maintenance personnel at the airline’s new facility in Ho Chi Minh City.

Vietnam Airlines was the second carrier to fly the A350, the Airbus competitor to Boeing’s 787. It already has four A350s in service with an order already lodged for another 10. The additional 10 aircraft will allow it to fly non-stop to the US West Coast, starting with services between Ho Chi Minh City and Los Angeles, using a three class premium layout seating 305 passengers.

“The intention to acquire these additional aircraft reflects our excellent experience with the A350 since it entered service with Vietnam Airlines last year,” Vietnam Airlines chief executive Duong Tri Thanh said in a statement. “With its very long range capability, economic fuel consumption and spacious cabin, the A350 is the suitable aircraft for our proposed intercontinental routes to Europe and the US.

“The start of non-stop transpacific services with the A350 is yet another example of the commitment we have at Vietnam Airlines to strengthen our position as one of the world’s leading international carriers.”

The Jetstar Pacific planes will join an existing fleet of 12 leased A320 family aircraft flying on its 33 domestic and regional routes. The budget airline, which is 30 per cent owned by Qantas and 70 per cent by Vietnam Airlines, is part of the larger Jetstar network and is looking to grow its operations.

“This order is a key milestone for our operation here in Vietnam and beyond,” said Jetstar Pacific chief executive Le Hong Ha. “These new aircraft will be used primarily to expand our international network from Vietnam as part of the wider Jetstar Group.

“As competition grows in Vietnam, we believe that the A320 and our value-based quality service will place us well to attract a growing share of the market.”