October 31, 2019 / 1:09 PM / 13 days ago

Vietnam's VietJet orders 20 Airbus A321XLR aircraft

(Reuters) - VietJet Aviation VJC.HM has ordered 20 Airbus (AIR.PA) long-range A321XLR aircraft that the budget carrier hopes will support its international expansion as Vietnam’s aviation market heats up.

VietJet expects the first aircraft to be delivered in 2023, it said in a statement on Thursday, adding that it will be the “first carrier in the world” to operate the new long-range version of the single-aisle A320neo family jets.

Industry sources said VietJet would be among the first to put the XLR into service.

Vietnam’s largest conglomerate in August applied to launch an airline next year, intensifying competition in one of the fastest-growing aviation markets.

The sector includes Vietnam Airlines HVN.HM, Jetstar Pacific Airlines and Vietnam Air Services Co.

The airline also signed a separate agreement in Toulouse, France, for two A320/A321 aircraft simulators.

VietJet’s order book for Airbus aircraft now totals 186, the airline said.

In September, Reuters reported that Airbus sold 15 A321XLR jets to VietJet.

Airbus on Thursday confirmed that VietJet had placed a new order for 15 XLR and said another 5 would be converted to the new jet from the A321neo model.

VietJet CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao said Thursday’s order will “modernise VietJet’s fleet as we look to strongly grow our international flight network.”

The airline currently flies to destinations including Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, China and India.

Reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Jason Neely and Dan Grebler

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