Vietnam Airlines targets regional jet, Neo orders

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Vietnam Airlines plans to order 15 to 20 sub-150 seat aircraft as part of its plans to become the main network carrier for Indochina.

The airline is studying the Mitsubishi MRJ, Sukhoi Superjet and Bombardier CSeries for the requirement, says its chief executive Pham Ngoc Minh in an interview with Flightglobal Pro in Hanoi.

"These aircraft will be used in Indochina on flights to Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar." He says the aicraft should "provide the latest technology and cost savings".

The SkyTeam carrier is not looking at Bombardier's CRJ or Embraer regional jets, however. "We want the latest aircraft with the next generation technology," he says.

Pham declines to say when a decision will be taken or when the airline hopes to induct these aircraft into its fleet.

This requirement is part of a bigger plan by the carrier to grow the size of its fleet from 73 aircraft to 170 by 2020. 

Fleet growth beyond 2014 will be driven by an order for Airbus A320neo-family aircraft.

The carrier already has 26 A321s on backlog which will be delivered between 2012 and 2014.

However, it needs more narrowbodies to grow its regional network in the second half of the decade, says Nguyen Thi Thanh Van, Vietnam Airlines board member and director for planning and investment.

It has been waiting for Airbus to confirm its plans for the narrowbody aircraft market, and is sticking with the re-engined variant of the A320 instead of defecting to Boeing and its 737 Max.

"We have not yet decided on the number of A320neos, but we will make the order when we have assessed the market," says Nguyen.