Sunday, March 15, 2009

Vietnam Airlines to ground aircraft for 'maintenance'

VNBusinessNews - Vietnam Airlines has announced it will ground a number of its aircraft between June 2009 and January 2010 for maintenance and upgrade work.

This would not affect either the airline’s domestic or international schedules, said the national carrier’s President & CEO, Pham Ngoc Minh.

He did not elaborate on the number and kinds of aircraft that will be grounded.

Vietnam Airlines, Southeast Asia’s fourth largest airline, has a fleet of about 50 aircraft that fly 29 domestic and 36 international routes.

Its revenues in 2008 rose 31 percent year on year to VND26.6 trillion (US$1.5 billion), but pretax profits plunged 35 percent to VND240 billion ($13.7 million) as fuel prices soared earlier in the year and the economic slowdown hurt traveling demand later.

Minh said this year would be “extremely difficult” as the aviation market may shrink significantly while competition gets increasingly tougher.

However, he said, Vietnam Airlines would take this opportunity to improve its services and expand its fleet to become the second largest carrier in Southeast Asia after Singapore Airlines by 2015.

The carrier has ordered a total of 39 Boeing 787-9, Airbus A350-900 and A321 aircrafts.

Its current fleet of ATR72-200 airplanes will be gradually replaced by 14 ATR72-500 between June 2009 and May 2010, Minh said.

The national carrier expects its fleet to expand to 104 aircraft by 2015 and to 150 by 2020. (TN)

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