Rapidly growing Vietnamese carrier Vietjet has purchased 100 additional 737 MAX airplanes, taking their MAX order book to 200 aircraft with nary a freighter to be seen.
The USD 12.7 billion order at list prices includes 20 MAX 8s and 80 of the new, larger MAX 10 variant making VietJet the largest Asian customer of the MAX 10.
Still missing in action from any of VietJet’s orders are freighters which were said to be coming onboard by Q2 2018. Last spring VietJet Air’s vice president Cargo, Do Xuan Quang said the carrier had an urgent need for maindeck capacity given that the carrier had reached saturation point in terms of its belly capacity on its fleet of 53 A320 family aircraft at that time.
The carrier’s cargo strategy as laid out at that time by the cargo chief was a three phased affair, with the first phase seeing the carrier operating a belly cargo operation domestically with some regional operations to Southeast and Northeast Asia over the first few years.
Quang had said at the time that VietJet Air was entering phase two and would bring in two leased B737-400 freighters in the second quarter this year with two more coming onboard before year-end, Quang. “We will develop a cargo strategy combining the belly network with the freighters on a point-to-point service,” he added. It’s not clear what the future is for maindeck capacity in the carrier’s fleet now that it has a substantial belly capacity boost on the way.
“The deal for 200 Boeing 737 MAX airplanes today is an important move for us to keep up with our international flight network expansion plan with a higher capacity, thus offering our passengers with more exciting experiences when being able to fly to more new international destinations,” say Nguyen Thị Phuong Thao, president and CEO of VietJet.
“We are pleased to expand our partnership with Vietjet and to support their impressive growth with new, advanced airplanes such as the 737 MAX,” adds Boeing Commercial Airplanes president & CEO Kevin McAllister.
“The economic expansion in Hanoi and across Vietnam is impressive. Vietjet and the country’s burgeoning aviation sector are clearly enablers, helping to stimulate travel within Vietnam and connecting Vietnam with the rest of Asia.”
In addition to airplane purchases, Boeing will partner with Vietjet to enhance technical and engineering expertise, train pilots and technicians, and improve management capabilities at the airline and in Vietnam.
The deal was signed today in Hanoi and witnessed by US President Donald Trump and Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong on the eve of the US-North Korea Summit in the Vietnamese capital.