Vietnam Airlines inks deal to buy more Airbus aircrafts

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Vietnam Airlines plans to borrow US$48 million to buy A321 aircrafts from French manufacturer Airbus in order to expand its domestic and international routes, news website VnExpress reported November 17.

The national carrier will reportedly receive a ten-year loan from the Vietnam International Bank (VIB). It would be the first time the bank has issued a long-term loan to the airline.

Pham Ngoc Minh, CEO of the Vietnam Airlines Corp. told VnExpress that he was highly appreciative VIB was willing to lend his company the money in light of the ongoing economic slump.

The A321, according to Airbus, is 44.51 meters long and can fly non-stop for 3,000 nautical miles, accommodating 185-220 passengers.

Vietnam Airlines signed contracts with Airbus in 2007 and 2009 to purchase 26 A321-231s to be delivered during the 2011-2014 period. A group of foreign banks, including Citi, DBS and HSBC, agreed in May to provide loans totaling $457 million for the purchase of eight planes.

At the moment the Vietnam Airlines offers 84 routes to 20 domestic and 27 international destinations. The airline currently operates some 300 flights a day with around 70 aircrafts.

It is planning to increase its fleet to 115 aircrafts by 2015 and then to 170 by 2020, according the news website.

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