The modern fleet of Vietnam Airlines in 2022

0

Just under 100 aircraft, Vietnam Airlines’ fleet is quite modern and has an overall average age of just under eight years. Vietnam’s flag carrier operates both the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787 and plans to expand and upgrade its narrowbody fleet, which currently consists of Airbus A321s and a single ATR72. In this article, we take an in-depth look at the core fleet of Vietnam Airlines.


Vietnam Airlines fleet at a glance

Here are the different types and variants operating with the main fleet of Vietnam Airlines, as well as their quantities and average ages:

SIMPLEFLYING VIDEO OF THE DAY
  • An ATR72-500 (13 years old)
  • 45x Airbus A321-200 (average age 11 years)
  • 20x Airbus A321neos (average age three and a half years)
  • 14x Airbus A350-900 (5.5 years on average)
  • Four Boeing 787-10s (average of three years)
  • And 11 Boeing 787-9 (average of almost seven years)

Interestingly, the airline’s aircraft collection has dwindled over the past year. In fact, some things have changed since we last reviewed this carrier’s fleet in 2021, but not much. Indeed, over the past 14 months or so, Vietnam Airlines had decided to retire one of its ATR72s while getting rid of a few A321-200s. More details regarding these particular fleets will be covered later in this article.

Photo: Airbus

The only ATR72

It’s a bit strange to see the airline only operating one ATR72. Yet, this really seems to be the case, as the turboprop with registration VN-B220 actively serves the carrier. Delivered to the airline in 2009, this 13-year-old plane provides regular connections from Hanoi to the Vietnamese cities of Dien Bien Phu (DIN) and Vinh (VII).

However, this is slightly misleading as Vietnam Air Service Company (VASCO), another member of Vietnam Airlines Group, operates five ATR72s. So in reality the airline operates a total of six but, for unknown reasons, technically has one registered as part of the mainline fleet.

Photo: GCMap.com

Projects for new regional aircraft

Thinking of other ATR72s, Vietnam Airlines hopes replacing turboprops with something more efficient. The carrier is keen to acquire new aircraft for its regional routes and is therefore considering retiring its existing turboprop fleet. At the moment, the airline group has not decided on a specific type of aircraft, although we know that it intends to introduce the new planes by 2023.

In fact, during the Routes Asia 2022 event held in Da Nang, Vietnam, airline CEO Le Hong Ha said that the upgrade will likely take place in late 2023 when Con Dao airports (VCS) and Dien Bien (DIN) will be upgraded and classified to receive A320 or similar aircraft. The airline is reportedly in talks with aircraft manufacturers and lessors to find a suitable aircraft type to serve short-runway airports in Vietnam, with Airbus A220 and Embraer E190/195 jets being considered.

Given the existing strong relationship between Vietnam Airlines and Airbus, the carrier might be able to strike a good deal for the A220s, although they are a completely different type from the A321s operated by the main fleet. Of course, service and support can be more difficult as no other airline in the region operates this type. On the other hand, fellow Vietnamese carrier Bamboo Airways operates a small fleet of Embraer ERJ190s. What do you think would be the best aircraft to replace the ATR72s?

The Airbus narrow-body fleet

From high-volume short-haul domestic services to medium-haul routes across the Asia-Pacific region, the airline’s Airbus A321 fleet is tasked with a wide range of missions. Indeed, from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the plane operates as far west as Delhi and as far east as Tokyo – flights that can take upwards of five hours.

As previously reported, the airline’s A321 fleet is split into older A321-200s and newer A321neos. The A321neo arrived between 2018 and early 2020. Despite being an older generation, the A321-200s aren’t that old – the oldest being around 16 years old. The youngest of these older generation jets is around seven years old. It would appear that the airline intended to phase out or replace its A321ceos at some point, and considered an order before the pandemic.

Indeed, in July 2019, we reported that the airline was considering the purchase of narrow-body aircraft for delivery between 2021 and 2025. The future order would not only modernize its fleet, but also allow the airline to secure a greater share of the domestic transport market. Reports said the deal would have been for 90 aircraft. At the time, it was reported that the carrier had to choose between A320 Family aircraft and Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Ultimately, however, the narrowbody modernization and expansion plans were drawn up before the pandemic and we don’t know exactly where the airline is in its recovery process. It is highly likely that the impact of COVID-19 has set the airline back two or three years, but with the recovery gaining momentum for most markets around the world, we may see a large fuselage order. Vietnam Airlines close over the next two years.

Photo: Airbus

Entry into the dedicated cargo market

More recently, we reported on Vietnam Airlines’ plans to capitalize on cargo and enter the dedicated cargo market. In fact, the airline plans to take on two Airbus A321 passenger-cargo (P2F) aircraft under a sale-leaseback transaction.

As ch-aviation reported in August, the US-based Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) will buy two of Vietnam Airlines’ A321-200s to convert them into freighters. The American company will then lease the aircraft to Vietnam Airlines for the carrier to use as cargo.

The A321P2F is a relatively new concept, with the first of its kind not releasing until 2020. As shown in the video below, this first example is the result of a partnership between Airbus and ST Engineering and their joint venture, Elbe Flugzeugwerke.

The Boeing 787 fleet

Currently, Vietnam Airlines has nearly equal amounts of Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s. This won’t be the case for long as the carrier will eventually take delivery of four 787-10s. Those planes likely would have gotten to the airline sooner if they hadn’t been caught up in Boeing’s long Dreamliner delivery stop due to issues stemming from FAA scrutiny.

The undelivered 787-10s built for Vietnam Airlines are now between one and two and a half years old and in storage. Sure, now that Boeing is able to deliver the 787 again, customers around the world, including Vietnam Airlines, are receiving their new jets as the aircraft manufacturer clears its backlog.

As for long-haul 787 operations, Vietnam Airlines is deploying the 787-9 from its hubs in Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi to European cities like London and Frankfurt. However, closer to home, the airline is rolling out the Dreamliner to cities like Tokyo and Seoul.

Perhaps the shortest Dreamliner flight operated by the airline is the very popular and incredibly bulky route between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh – the two largest cities in Vietnam. The two cities see more than 20 services a day operated by Vietnam Airlines alone. Not only the 787-9 and -10 fly this route, but also the carrier’s other jets – the A321 and A350.

Finally, it should be noted that the airline originally planned to deploy the 787-9 for its new long-haul service between Ho Chi Minh and San Francisco. However, it appears to have replaced the Dreamliner with the A350-900.

Photo: Vietnam Airlines

The Airbus A350-900

In addition to providing the less than two-hour flight between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Airlines’ A350s operate throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Indeed, the type is responsible for serving the main Australian cities of Melbourne and Sydney, as well as flying north to cities like Seoul, Busan, Osaka and Nagoya.

As just mentioned, the A350-900 is now deployed on the company’s longest service: VN98/99 from Ho Chi Minh City to San Francisco. This service covers some 12,600 km (7,830 miles) and lasts up to nearly 16 hours flying east. Launching in November 2021, the service is the result of 20 years of hard work by Vietnam Airlines to meet regulatory requirements and acquire aircraft efficient enough to make the route viable.

Photo: FlightRadar24.com

Exciting projects to come

As Vietnam Airlines’ wide-body fleet has been modernized, it will be exciting to watch the carrier continue to change and update the rest of its fleet. Will the Vietnam Airlines group opt for the A220? Or will he try his luck on Embraer? And when it comes to upgrading and expanding narrow bodies, will the airline consider trying the 737 MAX? Indeed, it looks like some big decisions are on the horizon for the carrier.

Which aircraft do you think Vietnam Airlines should choose to replace and modernize its regional fleets? And what is your own experience flying with this airline? Let us know your thoughts, opinions and experiences by leaving a comment!

Sources: Planespotters.net, FlightRadar24.com

  • Vietnam Airlines Getty
    Vietnamese airlines

    IATA/ICAO code:
    NV/HNV

    Airline type:
    Full service carrier

    Hub(s):
    Noi Bai International Airport (Hanoi), Tan Son Nhat International Airport (Ho Chi Minh City)

    Year of foundation:
    1956

    Alliance:
    SkyTeam

    CEO:
    Lê Hồng Hà

    Country:
    Vietnam

Share.

Comments are closed.