Boeing and Vietnam Airlines agree to 50 737 MAX order

Vietnam Airlines has ordered 50 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft
Vytautas Kielaitis /

Boeing has confirmed an order from Vietnam Airlines for 50 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Initially, the United States (US) President Joe Biden confirmed the order between the manufacturer and the airline. The White House’s readout of Biden’s meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh read that both officials “welcomed a landmark deal between Boeing and Vietnam Airlines worth $7.8 billion that will support more than 30,000 jobs in the United States”.

In a separate fact sheet, the White House clarified that Vietnam Airlines has purchased 50 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with the deal providing the country’s growing travel and tourism industry with “world-class aircraft”.

“In line with Vietnam Airlines’ 2025-2030 fleet strategy and a vision to 2035, aircraft investment is a crucial project that underpins positive recovery momentum and prosperous outlook for the airline,” Dang Ngoc Hoa, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Vietnam Airlines, stated.

Meanwhile, Boeing’s Senior Vice President of Commercial Sales and Marketing, Brad McMullen said that Southeast Asia was one of the fastest-growing aviation markets globally, adding that the Boeing 737 MAX was perfect for Vietnam Airlines to respond to that growth.

“We value our historic partnership with Vietnam Airlines, dating back to 1995 when the airline first leased 767,” McMullen added.

Currently, Vietnam Airlines does not operate any narrow-body jets made by Boeing, and only flies the 787-9 and 787-10, according to data. Its single-aisle fleet consists solely of Airbus aircraft, with the airline operating 48 A321ceo (seven inactive) and 20 A321neos.

Pacific Airlines, a subsidiary of Vietnam Airlines, also has 11 Airbus A320s (two inactive) in its fleet.

During a February 2019 interview, the then-chief executive officer (CEO) of Vietnam Airlines told Bloomberg the airline was considering ordering between 50 and 100 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with deliveries expected between 2020 and 2030.

However, the following month, the aircraft was grounded worldwide following a second fatal crash to involve the type in Ethiopia in March 2019.

In December 2021, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) said that based on Boeing’s safety measures and investigations into the two accidents, it had re-evaluated the safety index of the aircraft and allowed the 737 MAX to operate within the country from December 31, 2021.

Since that date, Boeing has not delivered a single 737 MAX to Vietnam, according to the company’s Orders & Deliveries filings as of July 31, 2023.

Meanwhile, data showed that no airlines in Vietnam operate the type. Only VietJet Air, a locally based low-cost carrier, has 150 737 MAX aircraft on order.

UPDATE September 11, 2023, 14:45 pm (UTC +3): The article was updated with a statement from Boeing and Vietnam Airlines.

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