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Originally published October 2, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 2, 2007 at 2:01 AM


Vietnam Airlines splits order between Boeing and Airbus

Vietnam Airlines split $5.5 billion in aircraft orders between Boeing and Airbus in agreements that analysts said owe as much to political...

Vietnam Airlines split $5.5 billion in aircraft orders between Boeing and Airbus in agreements that analysts said owe as much to political considerations as commercial ones.

The Asian airline Monday announced a preliminary contract for 12 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and another for 10 Airbus A350s and 20 A321s. The 787 and the A350 — both long-range, midsize, widebody planes — are direct competitors.

"It must be political," said Paul Nisbet, an analyst at JSA Research. "Buying both the 787 and A350 doesn't make an awful lot of sense, certainly not economically, as it's going to cost them a lot to set up logistics support and training for two very different planes."

Airlines tend to stick with one manufacturer for each class of plane to save money on spare parts and pilot training.

Vietnam has been seeking broad international support for its bid to gain a two-year seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2008 and 2009. Since it began emerging from isolation after its 1986 shift toward market-oriented policies, the country has sought to avoid dependence on any one power or alliance. The U.S. is Vietnam's largest export market.

Vietnam Airlines didn't specify the reasons for ordering planes from both manufacturers, saying the company was comfortable with its decision.

"We don't see it as that difficult to handle," spokesman Trinh Ngoc Thanh said.

The provisional Boeing contract is worth $1.8 billion at list price and comes on top of an existing order for four 787 Dreamliners.

The carrier's preliminary order for 10 300-seat A350s and 20 single-aisle A321s gives the Airbus deal a total value of $3.7 billion at list prices.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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