Vietnam Airlines looks set to sign a deal with Boeing this month to buy four Boeing B787-8s during the landmark visit to the US by prime minister Phan Van Khai on June 19 to 25, a well-informed source said.
The government has recently had a meeting with the national flag air carrier on this airplane acquisition scheme, and the prime minister “agreed in principle” to the scheme, said the official who asked not to be named.
Khai said at the meeting that the domestic aviation industry must develop stronger in the coming years to become a strong regional player, and therefore, purchasing more airplanes is necessary, the source said.
Before signing the deal during the prime minister’s visit to the US in the coming weeks, Vietnam Airlines must further negotiate with Boeing on the contract, especially the financing scheme with the involvement of the US Eximbank, according to the prime minister’s instruction at the meeting.
Vietnam Airlines has negotiated with Boeing for two-years now on the scheme to buy four B 787-8s, and both sides signed a letter of intent to this regard on December 31 last year, according to Boeing’s website. Speaking to the media on several previous occasions, Vietnam Airlines CEO Nguyen Xuan Hien said the air carrier is seeking to include in its fleet many more modern long-haul airplanes, and Boeing planes would be the choice.
Hien will accompany the prime minister in the forthcoming US visit.
Boeing 787-8, or Dream liner, is a mid-sized passenger airliner currently under development by Boeing Commercial Airplanes and scheduled to enter service in 2008. It will be able to carry between 200 and 350 passengers depending on the seating configuration, and will be more fuel-efficient than earlier Boeing versions.
Under its fleet expansion scheme, Vietnam Airlines will have 75 airplanes by 2010. Currently, it operates 40 airplanes, including eight Boeing 777s, four Boeing 767s, ten Airbus A320s, and seven Airbus A321 s.