Air Transport World

Vietnam: in search of 737s. (Vietnam Airlines seeks to replace Tupolev Tu-134s) (company profile)

HANOI-Desperately seeking modern, non-Soviet aircraft to replace its 14 Tupolev Tu-134s, the mainstay of its fleet, Vietnam Airlines has seen its plans thwarted by the U.S. embargo on technology transfers. Early this year, it contracted math Transavia to wet-lease a Boeing 737-300, which was about to leave Amsterdam when Washington halted the deal.

A subsequent arrangement with TEA, the Swiss subsidiary of Belgium's Trans European Airways, had the same fate TEA had even positioned a 737-300 and crews in Ho Chi Minh City and was about to start flying for Vietnam Airlines when the news came.

When ATW visited Vietnam Airlines' head office in july, hopes were that a solution to the problem might be found soon, possibly by ensuring that the high-technology aircraft would not overnight in Vietnam and would use a foreign airport such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore for maintenance. The contracts with Transavia and TEA, responding to the Vietnamese carrier's wish, called for the aircraft, their flight crews and maintenance personnel to be based in Ho Chi Minh City.

A partial solution that was under consideration during the summer was the extension of the daily SAS 767 flights from Europe to Bangkok on to Ho Chi Minh City with Vietnam Airlines leasing the aircraft for the Bangkok-Ho Chi Minh City sector, the Vietnamese carrier's busiest route. Air France long has carried passengers between the two cities on its ParisBangkok-Ho Chi Minh City route by paying royalties to Vietnam Airlines.

A similar arrangement gives Lufthansa traffic rights between Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City. However, the German airline sells some of the seats between Frankfurt and Ho Chi Minh City to Vietnam Airlines and the flight, operated via Singapore, carries the designator of both airlines. The seats-all economy-that Vietnam Airlines buys are mainly for Vietnamese returning after working in East Germany. …

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