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Sat, Jan 01, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Vietnam Airlines agrees to buy four Dreamliners

AFP , SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Vietnam Airlines has agreed to buy four wide-bodied Boeing 7E7 Dreamliner jets with a sticker price of around US$500 million, the two companies announced on Thursday.

The jets are scheduled for delivery to the Vietnamese national carrier in 2010 and will be used to expand its international service.

"The 7E7-8 will allow Vietnam Airlines to further develop our route structure to include city pairs that would otherwise not be financially viable," the airline's Nguyen Xuan Hien said in a statement issued here.

The deal between Boeing and Vietnam Airlines is expected to be finalized in the first quarter of this year.

While the planes are worth a total of US$500 million dollars, bulk purchase deals are usually worked out.

Vietnam Airlines is the eighth carrier to sign up for the next-generation Boeing jets, which are due to enter service in 2008 and on which the US company is staking its future.

Boeing has received 126 orders for 7E7s, 56 of them firm. But the number of orders is well below the company's stated target of 200 for 2004, following the launch of the Dreamliner project in April.

The 7E7 has faced enormous competition from the just-launched A350 built by the European consortium Airbus.

The announcement of the deal comes a day after Boeing got another boost for its 7E7 program with an order for 10 of the jets from US carrier Continental Airlines.

Last week Asia's biggest carrier, Japan Airlines (JAL), breathed life into the plane when it said it would place a firm order for 30 with an option to buy 20.

The world's biggest aircraft builder said the plane will use 20 percent less fuel than any similarly sized jet while travelling at speeds similar to the fast wide-body jets of today -- at around 850km an hour.

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