By Nguyen Kieu Giang and John Boudreau, Bloomberg
Startup carrier agrees to acquire as many as 26 more A321neos
Carrier said last month it was considering Boeing 737 Max
Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways doubled down on Airbus SE’s A321neo aircraft by agreeing to buy as many as 26 of the narrow-body jets, picking the rival to Boeing Co.’s 737 Max for its expansion in one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets.
The startup carrier agreed to six firm purchases of the A321neo and an option to buy 20 more, Chairman Trinh Van Quyet said in an interview Thursday. The total value of the deal would be $6.3 billion, based on the list price, he said.
The agreement comes a month after Quyet said his airline was considering an order of as many as 25 of the 737 Max. The carrier hasn’t engaged in negotiations with Boeing, he said, declining to comment further on the Boeing model that’s been involved in two disasters in five months.
Pressure is building on Boeing’s order book for its 737 Max, the company’s all-time fastest-selling plane, after the deadly crashes. Indonesia’s flag carrier PT Garuda Indonesia has asked to cancel an order for 49 of the aircraft and airlines worldwide have grounded their fleets, leaving the model’s immediate future in the balance.
“We have the intention to buy wide-body aircraft from Boeing and narrow-body planes from Airbus,” Bamboo’s Quyet said.
The deal would bring the airline’s fleet of A321neos to 50. Bamboo, whose parent company is property and leisure company FLC Group, agreed last year to buy 24 A321neo planes.
In February, Bamboo signed a contract to purchase 10 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners worth about $3 billion during President Donald Trump’s visit to Hanoi for his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. In June, the airline signed a commitment for 20 Dreamliners with a list price of $5.6 billion.
“There are sentiments going around, just psychological sentiments,” he said, in answer to a question about the effect of the grounding of the 737 Max. “Airplanes are still the safest means of transportation.”
On March 10, an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after takeoff, killing 157 people. An identical Lion Air plane plunged into waters off Indonesia in October. None of the 189 passengers and crew on board survived.
Another Vietnamese carrier, VietJet Aviation JSC, said it will make a decision on future plans to use the aircraft after U.S aviation officials issue results of their investigation into the second 737 Max crash. The Vietnamese budget carrier had ordered 200 Max planes — worth about $25 billion before the usual discounts.
Bamboo, which began service in January, expects to begin flying to Europe in June, Quyet said.