Vietnam Airlines sign up for 10 Airbus A321

8th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

HANOI, Dec 8 (AFP) - Vietnam Airlines said Wednesday it has signed a contract to buy 10 Airbus A321 aircraft to be delivered between 2006 and 2009 as part of its ambitious expansion programme.

HANOI, Dec 8 (AFP) - Vietnam Airlines said Wednesday it has signed a contract to buy 10 Airbus A321 aircraft to be delivered between 2006 and 2009 as part of its ambitious expansion programme.

"Under this contract, the first Airbus A321 will be delivered in 2006," the company said in a press release.

The signing came two months after a visit to Vietnam by French President Jacques Chirac during which Airbus, which is headquartered in southwestern France, signed a memorandum of agreement with Vietnam Airlines.

The agreement was worth USD 720 million (EUR 540.4 million), a source told AFP.

Airbus confirmed its intention to sell more aircraft to the Vietnamese flag carrier, including A330s and A340s.

"It is our desire to demonstrate the enormous economic savings that can be associated with an integrated fleet," said Christian Scherer, Airbus deputy head (commercial).

Over the past year Vietnam's state-owned carrier, which flies to about 25 international destinations, has inaugurated a number of new routes. It has earmarked further expansion, including flights to the United States by the end of 2005 or early 2006.

The carrier in January announced plans to double its fleet by 2010 to try to become a major regional player.

"With the objective of becoming a major, modern and prestigious ... company in the region and meet the increasing need for air transport, Vietnam Airlines has developed a comprehensive investment plan," the company said.

Last July the airline took delivery of the first of five A321-200s ordered in 2002 during a visit to Paris by Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong.

The A321, which is used on short- and medium-haul routes, seats around 185 passengers and has a range of up to 5,550 kilometres (3,500 miles).

The Vietnamese airline is also in talks with Boeing to buy four of its next-generation 7E7 Dreamliners that are due to enter service in 2008.

Its president Nguyen Xuan Hien indicated its company could sign the deal soon with the American company. "The purchase agreement could be signed in December or probably January next year," he said.

Alluding to Vietnam Airlines' plans to launch a service to the United States, Hien said his company would study the use of the Boeing 777 or Airbus A340.

By the end of next year, the company will operate 40 aircraft - eight Boeing 777s, four 767s, ten Airbus A320, seven A321, nine ATR 72s and two Fokker 70s.

The fleet could reach up to 80 aircraft by 2010, Hien said.

The company said Wednesday it carried more than five million passengers in 2004 for a record turnover of over USD 1 billion (EUR 776 million).

The International Air Transport Association predicts Vietnam's air travel industry will grow 10.5 percent per year for each of the next 10 years. Between 1985 and 1999, it grew 29.5 percent.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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