Boeing Commercial Airplanes has taken an order for 100 of its 737 MAX aircraft from VietJet Aviation Joint Stock Company, a low-cost airline based in Vietnam and operating more than 250 flights daily across Southeast Asia. Described as “the largest-ever single commercial airplane purchase in Vietnam,” the contract is valued at $11.3-billion using current list prices for the twin-engine narrow-body aircraft.
The order was announced on the same day the U.S. President Barack Obama visited Vietnam to announce an end to the U.S. arms embargo to the Communist country. Obama and Trần Đại Quang, president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, acted as witnesses to the contract-signing event in Hanoi, the capital city.
The 737 MAX is the fourth update in 50 years to Boeing’s 737 series aircraft. The twin-engine jets adopt the CFM International LEAP-1B high-bypass turbofan jet engine, promising greater fuel-efficiency, plus redesigned wing structures for improved aerodynamics performance.
Boeing’s new order represents its first placement with Vietjet, and the second-largest order to-date for the new 737 MAX 200 configuration of the 737 MAX 8 variant, following an order from Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier. The 737 MAX 200 is a high-capacity version of the new aircraft, seating up to 200 passengers in a single-class configuration.
Vietjet operates 50 routes within Vietnam and to international in Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Myanmar, and Malaysia, and it plans to expand its network across the region. In preparation, it previously put in orders for nearly 200 new aircraft of the Airbus A320 family.
Simultaneous with the Boeing announcement, Pratt & Whitney announced it was selected by Vietjet to supply its PurePower Geared Turbofan™ engine for 63 Airbus A320neo and A321neo jets, beginning in 2017.
Boeing will begin to deliver Vietjet’s new aircraft in 2019, continuing through 2023, helping the carrier to increase its fleet to more than 200 airplanes by the end 2023.
"Vietjet is efficiently operating a fleet of narrow body airplanes. Our investment in a fleet of B737 Max 200 will accommodate our strategy of growing Vietjet's coming international route network including long haul flights,” stated president and CEO Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo. “Through this agreement, Vietjet will contribute increasing bilateral trade turnover between Vietnam and the United States, as well as the integration and development of the aviation industry in Vietnam.”