Vietnam low-cost carrier Vietjet Air has entered a memorandum of understanding with the USA’s Carlyle Group for $550 million in funding for future 737 Max deliveries, with the first 12 examples going to Thai Vietjet Air in 2024.

The MOU will see Carlyle Aviation Partners, a unit of the Carlyle Group, fund an unspecified number of 737 Maxes from Vietjet’s 200-unit 737 Max orderbook, says Vietjet.

Nguyen Thi Phuong with Brendan Nelson

Source: Vietjet Air

Vietjet chairwoman Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao and Boeing Global president Brendan Nelson

The MOU was signed during a visit by US president Joe Biden to Vietnam. Biden’s visit also saw compatriot Vietnam Airlines commit to ordering 50 737 Maxes.

Of the 12 737 Maxes to be delivered in 2024, Vietjet confirms that the first few deliveries will be for Max 8s. In September 2022, Vietjet said that Thai Vietjet will receive 50 737 Maxes.

Vietjet adds that its 737 Max deliveries will take place for five years from 2024.

Vietjet has not given detailed guidance on the overall mix of 737 Max variants it will receive but issued an artist’s impression showing three variants – the Max 8, Max 200, and Max 9 – in Vietjet livery.

Vietjet’s 737 Max orders stem from a 2016 order for 100 aircraft and a 2019 order for an additional 100 aircraft. Both orders were signed during visits by sitting US presidents to Vietnam, with Barack Obama witnessing the 2016 order and Donald Trump the 2019 order.

Vietjet 737 Max

Source: Vietjet Air

Artist’s impression of three 737 Max variants - the Max 8, Max 200, and Max 9 - in Vietjet livery

Original plans had called for Vietjet to take its 737 Maxes between 2019-2023, but the carrier had yet to take its first example when two fatal crashes in October 2018 and March 2019 caused a global grounding of the type that dragged on for nearly two years.

Deliveries were further delayed by issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, which greatly impacted global air travel and aerospace supply chains.

Cirium fleets data indicates that Vietjet has 82 in-service aircraft, of which 75 are A320/A320neo family aircraft. It also operates seven A330-300s.

Thai Vietjet Air operates 18 A320 family narrowbodies.