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PARIS: VietJet eyes widebodies for long-haul expansion

VietJet Air has its sights on long-haul expansion, chief executive Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao confirms.

"We are seriously considering and studying the opportunity," she said after a briefing in which the Vietnamese start-up disclosed that it would acquire six additional Airbus A321 narrowbodies.

The airline currently operates 25 A320-family aircraft. Its newly ordered A321s join its 60 additional firm orders for A320-family aircraft and purchase rights for another 30.

"The market in the Asia-Pacific region is... growing very fast, and therefore we are trying to meet the requirement," Thao says, adding that medium- or long-haul expansion could occur in "several years".

Thao declines to name potential destinations, but says they could include routes to cities that have large populations of people of Vietnamese descent, citing the USA as an example.

"We have about three million Vietnamese who are always trying to come back home and do business," says Thao. "They are waiting for the long-haul and direct flights from the US."

Thao says VietJet is "working together" with Airbus as it studies potential markets, but she declines say which aircraft type might fit the carrier's plans.

But executives do not discount a product from Boeing, with the airline's vice-chairman Nguyen Thanh Hung calling both the 787 and A380 "good aircraft".

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