VietJet Takes Its First Airbus A330 On Christmas

VietJet has marked ten years of flying with a new plane. On Christmas Day, the Hanoi-based low-cost airline received its first Airbus A330-300 widebody jet when VN-A811 touched down at Ho Chi Minh’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

The first of three Airbus A330-300s arrived at VietJet on Christmas Day. Photo: VietJet

A new lease of life for a former AirAsia X Airbus

VN-A811 formerly flew for AirAsia X (registered there as 9M-XXB). AirAsia X withdrew the plane from service in May 2021 and parked it at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. By October, the Airbus was back in the hands of its owner, ICBC Leasing. Now, the plane has found a new lease of life at VietJet. VN-A811 has just turned 13.

The big Airbus jet arrives at an opportune time. VietJet plans to gradually resume international flying on January 1. The airline will initially operate once a week return flights to Tokyo Narita, Seoul, Taipei, Singapore, and Bangkok.

Vietjet plans to increase frequencies and add destinations as international travel begins to normalize. While the Airbus A330 is ultimately destined for other routes, it may well crop up on these regional routes over the coming months as VietJet beds the plane down and familiarises its crew. The arrival of the A330-300 will add new dimensions in passenger comfort, scope of operations, and network reach to the airline.

“We are delighted to mark our 10th anniversary today with an A330 aircraft’s arrival, which will help Vietjet grow significantly in operation capacity and international footprint expansion,” says Vietjet’s Managing Director Dinh Viet Phuong.

VietJet’s A330s are Russia bound

Two more A330s are expected to land at VietJet early in 2022. They’ll need them, VietJet is eyeing flying to Moscow from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Nha Trang by mid-2022. It is expected that Hanoi will begin on July 3rd with two weekly flights. Ho Chi Minh will be a one-stop through-plane service via Hanoi, while Nha Trang will be twice-weekly from July 10th.

“We have invested in a modern fleet, and we will expand our intercontinental flight network in the coming time. I believe that VietJet’s new services to Russia will again prove our commitment to offering top-quality flight products and services,” said Dinh Viet Phuong earlier this month.

Moscow is a smart choice for VietJet. Nearly 650,000 Russians visited Vietnam in 2019. According to Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sport, and Tourism, Russia was then Vietnam’s sixth-largest source market, behind China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the US.

Equipped with Rolls-Royce’s Trent 700 engines, VietJet’s new Airbus has a range of 7,301 miles (11,750 kilometers) and can accommodate 378 passengers, including 12 in business class.

VietJet’s newest aircraft landing at Ho Chi Minh on the weekend. Photo: VietJet

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A step outside the box for VietJet

The decision to lease the three A330s sees VietJet step outside its exclusively narrowbody Airbus mold. The airline has 75 planes in its fleet (or 76 if you include the first A330), the majority of which are A321-200s and A321neos. VietJet also has 18 Airbus A320-200s.

VietJet has stuck with these planes to date to service both its domestic network and intra-Asia international network. But none of these aircraft types can fly from Vietnam to Moscow in a single hop.

Still, VietJet’s three A330s appear to be more a dalliance than a pointer to the airline’s future direction. VietJet still has more than 100 aircraft on order with Airbus – all narrowbodies. But Dinh Viet Phuong knows if he wants to tap into markets like Russia, he needs a sub-fleet of bigger planes that can fly further while also offering long-haul passengers a higher level of comfort and amenity than narrowbody jets can.

VietJet’s Managing Director says picking up the A330s as part of “VietJet’s ongoing commitment is to modernize our fleet and elevate services so that our customers can take farther flights more comfortably with the most competitive ticket fares ever.”