The Airbus relationship with Vietnam began more than 30 years ago in 1986, when the first Puma helicopter entered into service in the country. In 1991, the A310 widebody aircraft became the first Airbus commercial airliner to begin operations in the country. Since then, in tandem with its economic development, Vietnam has become an important customer base for the Airbus commercial aircraft, defence, space and helicopter product lines.
Airbus is also developing its industrial presence in Vietnam, where a growing number of local aerospace companies supply parts for Airbus commercial aircraft including the A320 Family, A330, A350 XWB and A380. Airbus also provides flight and maintenance training services in the country, works with Vietnamese government agencies to increase the efficiency of their air traffic control system, and provides financial and technical support to develop university programmes in Vietnam.
To date, Airbus has sold some 200 civil passenger aircraft to airlines and leasing companies in Vietnam. Customers include Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, VietJet Air and Vietnam Aviation Leasing Company. Together, they have placed orders for aircraft including the best-selling single-aisle A320 Family, the popular and versatile A330 widebody, and the new long-haul A350 XWB.
Airbus aircraft have been present in Vietnam since 1991, when Singapore-based Regionair began operating A310 widebody aircraft on behalf of Vietnam Airlines. This was followed at the end of 1993 by the arrival of the first of seven 150-seat A320s, operated under a wet lease agreement with Air France.
The initial A320 operation provided Vietnam Airlines with the opportunity to experience first-hand the in-service reliability, passenger appeal and economic benefits offered by the world's most modern single-aisle aircraft. This played an important role during the subsequent aircraft acquisition evaluation process at the airline, and eventually led to the selection of the A320 as the new flagship for the carrier's regional services.
The first of the new A320 Family aircraft for Vietnam Airlines was delivered in July 1996 under an operating lease agreement. Vietnam Airlines placed its first direct order for five Airbus A321 aircraft in October 2002, and followed up with an order for 10 A321s in December 2004.
December 2007 saw yet another landmark for Airbus in Vietnam with the sale of 10 new widebody A350 XWB, as well as 10 A321s, to Vietnam Airlines. At the same time, Vietnam Aviation Leasing Company announced an order for 10 A321s for lease to Vietnam Airlines. In 2009, Vietnam Airlines reaffirmed its confidence in Airbus with a firm order for 16 more A321s.
In June 2015, Vietnam Airlines became the first Asian airline to fly the A350 XWB and the second operator of the aircraft in the world. To date the airline has received a total 14 A350-900s, including four from lessors.
As of October 2020, Vietnam Airlines had 86 owned and leased Airbus aircraft in its fleet. This comprised 52 A321ceo, 20 A321neo, and 14 A350-900s.
Low-cost carrier Pacific Airlines (formerly known as Jetstar Pacific), a joint venture between Vietnam Airlines and Australia’s Qantas Group, became a new Airbus operator in Vietnam in 2008. In September 2016, the airline finalised its first direct order with Airbus for 10 A320ceo aircraft. Today, the airline’s fleet includes 17 A320ceo.
In December 2011, Vietnamese low-cost carrier Vietjet started operations with a fleet of A320 aircraft. Since then, the fast-growing airline has expanded its network to both domestic and international destinations and has set up a Bangkok-based affiliate for the Thai market.
In February 2014, the carrier finalised a major order with Airbus for 63 A320 Family aircraft. It ordered six additional A321ceo during the 2015 Paris Air Show, and another 30 A321s (nine A321ceo and 21 A321neo) at the 2015 Dubai Airshow. It followed that up in September 2016 with a firm order for 20 A321 single-aisle aircraft, comprising 10 A321ceo and 10 A321neo.
In November 2018, Vietjet placed a firm order with Airbus for an additional 50 A321neo aircaft. Today, Vietjet’s fleet includes 87 Airbus aircraft comprising 28 A320ceo, 44 A321ceo and 15 A321neo aircraft.
Bamboo Airways, part of the Vietnamese conglomerate FLC Group, began operations in January 2019 with a leased A320ceo. As of October 2020, Bamboo Airways’ fleet comprised 19 Airbus aircraft including one A319ceo, six A320ceo, five A320neo, three A321ceo and four A321neo aircraft.
The first Airbus rotorcraft to be sold in the country was a Puma for VNH South, which deployed the helicopter in the oil and gas sector. VNH South has since become one of the leading helicopter service providers in Southeast Asia, and currently operates a fleet that includes models such as the AS332 L2, H155 and H225.
Today there are more than 10 Airbus helicopters in service in Vietnam, primarily operating in the oil and gas industry and on search and rescue missions.
In June 2018, the Airbus Defence and Space division completed the delivery of three NC212i light turboprop aircraft to Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defence. Vietnam’s air force operates these new aircraft on transport and medical evacuation missions. The entry into service of the NC212i is part of an ongoing renewal of the service’s transport fleet.
They complement three Airbus C295 medium aircraft that were delivered to the service between 2014 and 2015, and are deployed on transport roles with the air force.
Vietnam’s coast guard also operates C212-400 aircraft on coastal surveillance, monitoring of fisheries and other law enforcement missions.
Airbus also developed, manufactured and launched VNREDSat-1, Vietnam’s first Earth observation satellite. VNREDSat-1, which was launched into orbit in May 2013 and marked the full autonomous entry into space for the country. The system provides Vietnam with high-resolution imagery to protect its sovereignty, serve social and economic development purposes, as well as offer environmental protection and natural disaster monitoring.
In June 2018 Airbus and Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) signed a letter of intent (LOI), and agreed to collaborate on several areas of mutual interest in support of the development of the country’s space sector. This includes the exchange of information on issues related to Earth observation, organising and participating in scientific and technological events, and research into satellite technology.
Beyond its commercial success, Airbus also is growing its industrial footprint in Vietnam. In April 2014, Airbus awarded its first aerostructure manufacturing package in Vietnam to Hanoi-based Nikkiso Vietnam. This covers the production of composite spars and panels for the wing tip Sharklets fitted on the A320 Family. Nikkiso Vietnam undertook this work under a subcontract with primary Sharklet supplier Korean Air Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD).
Its excellent performance led to Nikkiso Vietnam being awarded four additional work packages in September 2016. These include torque boxes and cargo door components for the A350 XWB, and parts for the wing tips and wing trailing edge on the A330neo.
Artus Vietnam, a subsidiary of Meggitt PLC, has been supplying electronic and electromechanical equipment for Airbus aircraft since 1996. Today, Artus Vietnam supplies parts for the complete Airbus product line (A320 Family, A330 Family, A350 XWB and A380).
Airbus has always looked at opportunities to place more work packages in Vietnam.
In the area of infrastructure development, NAVBLUE, Airbus’ subsidiary dedicated to flight operations and air traffic management services, is working with Vietnam Air Traffic Management (VATM), to enhance further the efficiency of the air traffic control system in the country. This will aim to improve the use of airspace and traffic flows, especially around Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
In 2016, Airbus signed an agreement to provide flight and maintenance training services to Vietjet in Ho Chi Minh City. This has resulted in Vietjet‘s flight training centre hosting an Airbus A320 Full-Flight Simulator (FFS) to conduct flight crew training for its pilots.
In June 2018, Airbus signed two agreements to support the creation of new international standard degree programmes at the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi (USTH). The university began enrolling students in the Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Maintenance and Engineering Operations and Master of Science in International Air Transport Operations courses in September 2018. These will help to build up local expertise in Vietnam’s fast-growing aerospace industry and develop its future leaders.
Airbus also is working with FPT Software, a Vietnamese information technology (IT) services firm, to strengthen the development of the ecosystem for Skywise – the company’s open aviation data platform – in the Asia-Pacific region. This includes a training system for both third-party users and software developers in Vietnam and the region.