February 27, 2019 | 01:02 am PT

Major aviation deals inked as US, Vietnam presidents meet

Major aviation deals inked as US, Vietnam presidents meet
A Vietjet aircraft takes off from the Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo by Shutterstock/Kittikun Yoksap

Three major aviation deals were signed Wednesday in the presence of Vietnamese and U.S. presidents Nguyen Phu Trong and Donald Trump.

Budget airline Vietjet signed with U.S. airplane manufacturer Boeing Company a deal to buy 100 new narrow-body 737 MAX airplanes worth $12.7 billion, according to the manufacturer’s list prices.

"The deal is an important move for us to meet our international flight network expansion plan with a higher capacity," Vietjet president and CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao said.

Vietjet also finalised a $5.3 billion long-term engine support agreement with General Electric for the LEAP-1B engines in its fleet.

New airline Bamboo Airways also inked a deal with Boeing for 10 wide-body 787-9 Dreamliners worth almost $3 billion.

The carrier, owned by property and leisure company FLC Group, had placed a provisional order last year for 20 Boeing 787 jets worth $5.6 billion at list prices.

The new deal brings the total number of Boeing 787 that Bamboo Airways has ordered to 30, worth total value of almost $8.6 billion. First aircraft are expected to be delivered in the third quarter of next year.

Bamboo Airways is preparing to launch flights to the U.S. from late 2019 or early 2020, after Vietnam earlier this month received a Category 1 rating from the U.S, allowing local airlines to operate direct flights to the U.S.

"Direct flights between the two countries will not only push tourism activities, but also further facilitate bilateral trade and investment," FLC president Trinh Van Quyet said in a statement.

Bamboo Airways is also considering the purchase of 25 narrow-body Boeing 737 MAX worth $2.5 billion, the statement said.

Vietnam Airlines signed a $300-million for strategic partnership deal in aviation information technology with U.S.-based technology company Sabre Corporation.

The deal is expected to help the state-owned Vietnamese airline increase IT applications in flight management and passenger service.

Sabre has been cooperating with Vietnam airlines for over 20 years. Last year, they had signed a $400-million aviation technology application deal.

Vietnam’s aviation sector has been booming in recent years. Local airlines served almost 50 million passengers last year, up 10.1 percent from 2017, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam.