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Old September 16th, 2007, 04:34 PM   #1
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Vietnam - The Next Target for Aircraft Manufacturers

Sky wars over Vietnam aircraft market

HANOI, Sept 16, 2007 (AFP) - Aircraft giants Boeing and Airbus are competing to sell their new jetliners to Vietnam while Bombardier of Canada is also fighting for a slice of the fast-growing market.

Air travel is taking off in the communist-ruled country of 84 million where the economy is growing at over eight percent a year and a new middle class is taking to the skies for both tourism and business travel.

State-run Vietnam Airlines, soon to be part-privatised, plans to modernise its fleet of 45 aircraft -- a mix of Boeing, Airbus, ATR and Fokker planes -- to compete against a slew of foreign carriers and new budget airlines.

"We want to be one of the leading regional carriers," said Vietnam Airlines general manager for corporate affairs Bach Quoc Thang. " Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are the examples we want to follow."

The airline is also considering turning subsidiary Vietnam Air Service Co. into a low-cost carrier, sources say, to take on Pacific Airlines, part-owned by Qantas, and AirAsia, now in partnership with ship-builder Vinashin.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung is expected to make a decision soon on buying new long-range jets for Vietnam Airlines, and lobbying has intensified for the big-ticket orders from US manufacturer Boeing and European rival Airbus.

Montreal-based Bombardier Aerospace has also joined the fray, taking its 90-seat CRJ900 NextGen jet, launched this year, to Vietnam last week, saying it could fly domestic and Asian routes at the lowest fuel cost per seat.

"This would be an ideal feeder aircraft for Vietnam's domestic and regional air transport needs," said Trung Ngo, vice president of Bombardier, adding that airlines such as Lufthansa and Air France have used their jets since the 1990s.

To secure financing for any new planes, Vietnam's first aircraft leasing company has just been set up by Vietnam Airlines, Vietindebank, Petrovietnam and telecom group VNPT, with initial capital of 200 million dollars.

Vietnam Airlines now operates 45 aircraft -- ten Boeing 777, ten Airbus A320, ten A321, three A330, ten French-made ATR-72 and two Fokker-70. It will receive five more A321 next year and four Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners from 2009.

It is also in negotiations to acquire as many as 14 to 16 more Boeing 787-8 or 787-9 jets on a lease/purchase basis while also talking with Airbus, subject to the government's final decision, industry sources say.

Some industry watchers had expected news of a major Boeing deal a year ago when US President George W. Bush visited Hanoi, or during Vietnamese President Nguyen Minh Triet's US trip in June, but no agreement was announced.

Former US ambassador Michael Marine last month again urged Vietnam to buy more Dreamliners, saying they would meet the airline's needs for direct US flights that, after repeated delays, are scheduled to start late next year.

Aviation officials will join Prime Minister Dung when he leaves later this month for a trip to both New York and Paris.

Nervousness about the hold-up on an anticipated Boeing deal has grown on the American side, more so since the new Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger plane, stopped off in Hanoi for a demonstration flight on September 2.

Edouard Ullmo, Airbus executive vice-president for Asia-Pacific, said during the visit that Vietnam Airlines was expanding so rapidly that it could be ready to operate a plane the size of the A380 by 2012-13.

Hanoi's American Chamber of Commerce executive director Adam Sitkoff said it was in Vietnam's best interest to quickly strike a deal with Boeing.

"The future growth of Vietnam's important tourism sector depends on having enough passenger aircraft," he said. "The longer Vietnam Airlines waits to purchase the Dreamliner, the longer it will be until the planes are delivered."

Vietnam Airlines executive vice president Nguyen Van Hung, speaking with AFP, gave little away about when a decision might be made.

"I think it will be soon since the government of Vietnam is now considering and studying the fleet development project of Vietnam Airlines," he said.

Vietnam would consider the 787-9 for its US flights, he said, but he added that "for our long-range operation, it is not only the Boeing 787-9 which can do it, but at Airbus they also have products, like the A350-900.

"It means that Vietnam Airlines has the right to select the appropriate aircraft for its fleet," he said. "But it's not Vietnam Airlines which makes the decision, it is Vietnam's government which makes the decision."
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Old October 4th, 2007, 06:09 AM   #2
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Vietnam Airlines orders Boeing and Airbus

HANOI, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Vietnam Airlines split a keenly awaited order for mid-sized passenger jets between Boeing (BA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Airbus on Monday following a battle for market share in one of the world's fastest-growing economies after China.

The unlisted national airline said it had signed a memorandum of understanding to buy 12 Boeing (BA.N: Quote, Profile, Research) 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft -- a deal which the U.S. planemaker valued at $1.9 billion based on catalogue prices.

Hours later, the airline signed another draft agreement to buy 10 competing Airbus A350-900XWB passenger jets during a visit to Paris by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

The Airbus deal, signed in front of reporters at French Prime Minister Francois Fillon's office, also included 20 additional single-aisle A321 jets.

The Airbus deals are worth $3.8 billion at list prices including $2.4 billion for the crucial A350 order where the competition between Boeing and Airbus is at its fiercest.

Under the Boeing deal, the first 787 plane will be delivered in 2015, the state-run airline said in a statement.

The deal follows a 2005 Vietnam Airlines contract to buy four Boeing 787-8 airplanes for delivery in 2009 and 2010.

The 787 and 350 are competing head to head in one of the most promising parts of the aviation market, though Boeing has a five-year lead and a strong lead in sales over its rival.

The contest was seen as a direct comparison between the 787 and 350 because of the deferred delivery dates, with the 314-seat A350-900 not due to enter service until 2013.

Boeing's 787 is due to enter service next year and is virtually sold out until 2013.

The lightweight, fuel-efficient 787 has become Boeing's most successful plane launch in history.

The first flight is set for sometime between mid-November and mid-December after a three-month delay due to a shortage of bolts and problems programming the flight control software.

Boeing says it will stick to its May target date for delivery of the first plane to a Japanese airline, though some of the planemaker's suppliers say this will be a difficult target to reach because of the reduced time for test flights.

Vietnam Airlines said it aims to add 20 Boeing 787-8s to its fleet of 86 aircraft by 2015 and expand the Boeing planes to 28 by 2020 when its fleet rises to more than 110 planes.

It plans to open the first direct route linking Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, with Los Angeles in late 2008 with five flights weekly on Boeing 777-200 ERs.

Also in Paris, France's Bouygues (BOUY.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) and Alstom (ALSO.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) won a 190-million-euro ($270.5 million) contract to help build a power station in Vietnam.

(Additional reporting by Sophie Louet, Tim Hepher, Chris Reiter, Francois Murphy)

Sources: Reuters and Bloomberg
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Old November 16th, 2007, 04:41 PM   #3
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Vietnam Plans to Buy a Dozen Boeing 787s
16 November 2007

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Vietnam plans to buy 12 Boeing 787s to meet growing demand for air travel in the booming Southeast Asian country, officials said Friday.

State-owned Vietnam Airlines will purchase four of the planes and a new joint venture called Vietnam Aircraft Leasing Co. will purchase eight, company officials announced at a news conference. They expect to sign the deals soon.

Vietnam Airlines and Chicago-based Boeing Co. declined to disclose the price of their deal. VALC said in a news release it would pay $1.42 billion for its eight planes.

Many companies in the region are lining up to buy new planes, said Pham Ngoc Minh, vice president of Vietnam Airlines and chairman of VALC. "If we don't make a quick and bold move now, the delivery of the planes would have to be pushed back further," Minh said.

VALC is a consortium of five large state-owned Vietnamese companies, including Vietnam Airlines which is the biggest stakeholder with 23 percent. VALC will lease its 787s to Vietnam Airlines when the planes are delivered in 2014.

Vietnam Airlines now has 46 aircraft in its fleet. Two years ago it said it planned to have 80 planes by 2015 and 110 by 2020.

Given the rapid pace of economic growth in Vietnam, Minh said, the company may have to purchase even more aircraft.

In September, Vietnam Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus to buy 10 A350-900 plus 20 smaller A321s.

Communist Vietnam has been implementing free-market reforms, and its economy is now among the fastest growing in the world, increasing by more than 8 percent last year. The country joined the World Trade Organization earlier this year, and foreign investment and tourism are booming.

Vietnam Airlines spokesman Trinh Ngoc Thanh said Vietnam's air transport market has grown an average of 15 percent per year in recent years.

Vietnam Airlines had already previously ordered four 787s in 2005.

To date, Boeing has won more than 700 orders for the 787, while Airbus has received 154 firm orders and 110 nonbinding commitments for the similarly sized A350, which is scheduled to enter service in 2013.
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