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 17 Apr 2009

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Vietnam Airlines plans to expand fleet

National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines plans to talk with European planemaker Airbus over the purchase of 10 A321-200 aircraft by early May, Reuters quoted a Vietnamese company official as saying Thursday.

"Our chief executive will go to France late this month or early next month to talk with Airbus over the purchase," said the Vietnam Airlines official, who is familiar with the purchase plan but declined to be identified by name because he was not authoorised to discuss the matter.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung approved a plan for the Hanoi-based unlisted airline to buy the 10 planes for delivery between 2011 and 2014, the government has said.

Based on 2008 average list prices, the planes would be worth around $900 million. Vietnam has forecast air passenger traffic to more than double to 32.4 million people by 2020 from 16 million in 2008.

Vietnam Airlines, the country's largest airline now with a fleet of 50 aircraft, has targeted its passenger handling this year to rise 7.3 percent to 9.46 million.

The airline and Vietnamese aircraft leasing firm, in which Vietnam Airlines was one of five founders, signed contracts to buy 47 planes in late 2007, including 12 Boeing 787s, five ATR 72s and 30 Airbus planes.

Last December, Vietnam Airlines signed a $112 million contract to buy another six turboprop ATR 72-500 planes from ATR, a joint venture between EADS and Finmeccanica.

Vietnam Airlines said it carried 8.82 million passengers last year, 10.6 percent higher than in 2007 and almost 54 percent of Vietnam's total.




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