An Unidentified Order For 15 Airbus A321XLRS Could Go To VietJet

Vietnamese low-cost carrier VietJet may be expanding. According to a report in Reuters, the airline has bought 15 Airbus A321XLR aircraft. However, Airbus has not named the carrier as the customer and VietJet is yet to confirm the purchase with Simple Flying. The Reuters report is relying on “industry sources”.

Reuters is claiming VietJet has bought 15 A321XLRs. Photo: Shadman Samee via Wikimedia Commons

If correct, the brand new Airbus aircraft will join VietJet’s all-Airbus narrow-body fleet. The airline operates twenty A320-200 aircraft, thirty-three A321-200 aircraft, and eleven A321neos. The A321XLR should fit nicely into that stable. VietJet also has 200 Boeing 737 MAXs on order but none delivered.

A little background on VietJet

VietJet, which started flying in 2011, was the first private airline to base itself in Vietnam. Like many low-cost carriers, the startup was fraught with delays and drama. Financial problems and a failure to obtain Vietnamese regulatory approvals saw the first flight pushed back from 2008 to 2009, from 2009 to 2010, and from 2010 to 2011. But VietJet eventually got its first flight up, scooting between Ho Chi Ming and Hanoi, on December 25th, 2011.

Within 18 months, the budget airline was launching its first international service between Ho Chi Minh and Bangkok. In February 2017, a public float saw the airline listed on the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange, the first Vietnamese airline to do so.

VietJet now flies to 18 destinations throughout Vietnam from its hubs in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Da Nang, Hai Phong and Nha Trang. It has 44% of the Vietnamese domestic aviation market tied up. In addition, it flies around South East and North Asia, with flights to Taiwan, China, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Macau, Malaysia, Japan, Myanmar, and Thailand.

Source: VietJet
Source: VietJet

That’s a pretty solid record of achievement for an airline that has only been flying for eight years. Buying the A321XLR is a further sign that the airline is looking to the future. In reality, it’s a modified and improved A321neo. Simple Flying has previously reported on the improvements featured in the A321XLR. It is the widest single-aisle aircraft in the sky and is seven inches wider than the Boeing 737. It can fly 15% further than the A321LR which in turn can fly 15% further than VietJet’s A321neos. Airbus is also claiming a 30% less fuel burn per seat.

Airbus has now sold over 300 of the aircraft since June this year. 

Where would VietJet fly the A321XLR?

A likely destination for some of the A321XLRs is Australia. VietJet has been looking to start services there for a couple of years now. In March 2018, VietJet and Brisbane Airport Corporation signed an MOU to start non-stop services between Ho Chi Ming and Brisbane, noting that passengers numbers between Queensland and Vietnam had been growing at 8% per annum over the previous five years. To date, these flights are yet to begin.

The VietJet/Brisbane Airport MOU signing ceremony in March 2018. Photo: VietJet.

Last month, an MOU was signed in Vietnam between Avalon Airport (Melbourne) and Vietnam’s Sovico Group, the founding shareholder of VietJet. In a statement, Avalon Airport said;

“…the two partners will mutually cooperate for developments regarding air transportation of passenger and cargo services, aviation facilities and hotel accommodation in Australia as well as enabling to open and connect flight routes between Vietnam, Melbourne Avalon and other regional nations in the coming time.”

With a range of up to 4,700 nautical miles, the A321XLR would be perfect for long skinny routes such as this. With delivery not set to commence until 2021/22 and VietJet joining a long list of customers, it might be a few years before we see a VietJet A321XLR take to the skies.

Simple Flying reached out to VietJet to confirm their purchase and inquire about their intended use of the A321XLR but had not received a response prior to publication.