Vietnam Airlines' revenue may rise 31 percent this year

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Vietnam Airlines Corp.'s revenue may rise 31 percent this year as the state-owned carrier expands its fleet of aircraft and network of destinations.

Sales may increase to VND32.24 trillion ($1.7 billion) in 2010 from VND24.62 trillion last year, Hanoi-based Vietnam Airlines said in a press release Thursday.

The carrier on Thursday joined the Skyteam Alliance, whose members include OAO Aeroflot, Air France-KLM Group, China Southern Airlines Co., to enlarge its network of destinations and cut operating costs. Vietnam Airlines expects to carry 12 million passengers this year, up 28 percent from 9.35 million in 2009, according to the press release.

The airline plans to expand its fleet of aircraft to 115 by 2015 and to 165 by 2020, compared with 70 by the year-end, Chief Executive Pham Ngoc Minh said at a media briefing in Hanoi Thursday.

Vietnam Airlines expects to take delivery of 10 aircraft this year, including ATR-72s and Airbus SAS A321s and A330s, Minh said on June 7.

The carrier is still in the process of preparing its initial public offering and finding foreign partners, the chief executive told reporters Thursday, without stating when the company may sell shares or the names of prospective partners.

The global financial crisis has delayed the plans of state- owned companies, including Vietnam Bank for Investment and Development and Vietnam Mobile Telecommunication Services Co., to sell shares. The government may revive plans to sell stakes in companies, including Vietnam Airlines, in 2010, Minister of Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc said on Dec. 3.

The government said in 2008 that it planned to sell a holding of as much as 20 percent in Vietnam Airlines.

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