National carrier Vietnam Airlines took delivery of its first of eight Boeing 787-10s on lease from Air Lease Corporation (ALC) as part of a major restructuring plan to adjust its operating model and drive down costs. Plans call for the delivery of two more widebodies by year-end.
In a Boeing statement released on Thursday, the airline said the aircraft will be used on international routes, but did not disclose further details. The 787-10 will also connect the city’s capital Hanoi with Ho Chi Minh City—the 6th busiest domestic flight route in the world, according to British aviation analysis firm OAG.
"Welcoming the largest member of the 787 family to our growing fleet ensures we continue to boast one of the youngest and most modern fleets in Asia and also adds a competitive edge to Vietnam Airlines' operations,” said Pham Ngoc Minh, chairman of the board of directors of Vietnam Airlines.
"This first of eight 787-10s from ALC will significantly contribute to Vietnam Airlines' ongoing major widebody fleet upgrade with the latest technology,” added Steven Udvar-Házy, executive chairman of ALC.
Vietnam Airlines is finalizing its organizational structure with plans to complete its 20 narrowbody Airbus A321neo fleet by year-end. The carrier is also intending to wrap up its investment proposal of 50 narrowbody aircraft for the 2021-2025 period.
With more players vying to enter the crowded Vietnamese market, the airline is aiming to boost its standing into becoming a five-star international carrier. Earlier this week, the airline expanded its partnership with U. S’s second-biggest carrier, Delta Air Lines, after inking a two-way codeshare agreement. The recent announcement follows the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s decision earlier this year to award Vietnam a Category 1 safety rating, effectively allowing Vietnamese airlines to launch routes to the U.S. and participate in codeshare agreements with U.S.-based carriers.
As part of the agreement, the two carriers will review Vietnam Airlines’ flight operations system in September with plans to launch codeshare flights in October. Delta will sell Vietnam Airlines’ tickets on the Hanoi-Tokyo route. For its part, Vietnam Airlines will sell Delta’s tickets between Tokyo and six U.S. cities—Detroit, Portland, Honolulu, Atlanta, Seattle, and Los Angeles—and between Frankfurt and Detroit, Atlanta, and New York. Vietnam Airlines will also sell domestic flights operated by Delta between Minneapolis and Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, and St Louis as well as routes between Atlanta and Austin, Dallas, Houston, Miami, and Washington.
Traffic between Vietnam and the U.S. increased by 8 percent in 2018 to 757,000 passengers carried.