A VietJet aircraft prepares for landing at Tan Son Nhat airport in Ho Chi Minh City. (Reuters Photo)

HANOI: VietJet Aviation signed a US$6.5-billion agreement on Friday to buy 50 Airbus A321neo jets, the Vietnamese budget carrier said.

The agreement, signed during a visit to Hanoi by French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, is part of an  aggressive fleet expansion that has provided lucrative business for both the European aerospace group Airbus and its US rival Boeing.

VietJet said the order was in line with its growth strategies and would enhance the airline’s operational efficiency and capacity, especially on international routes.

In addition to the aircraft, Airbus will deploy pilot and technician training programmes and fight management and flight safety management for VietJet.

In a separate statement, VietJet said it had also signed a memorandum of understanding with CFM International on a $5.3-billion deal for long-term jet engine maintenance.

VietJet, Vietnam’s biggest private airline, currently operates 60 Airbus jets with more than 385 flights daily within Vietnam and to countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Thailand, Myanmar and Malaysia.

CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao told Reuters this week that VietJet plans to maintain an average fleet age of only three years in order to minimise fuel and maintenance costs.

It placed provisional orders for the Airbus A321neo jets and 100 Boeing 737 MAX jets at the Farnborough airshow earlier this year in the UK and has been in negotiations to complete the deals, with deliveries expected between 2020 and 2025.

News Reporter

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