- REUTERS/Nguyen Huy Kham
Vietnamese low-cost airline VietJet just placed a massive order with Boeing.
The 5-year-old airline, known for risqué PR stunts, including bikini-clad flight attendants, ordered a hundred 737 MAX 200 airplanes.
US President Barack Obama and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang watched VietJet CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao and Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner sign the deal at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi.
At current list prices, the deal is valued at $11.3 billion, although it’s likely that VietJet received a discount upward of 50% off list prices.
VietJet, which began operations in 2011, has courted controversy in recent years with its risqué PR stunts. In 2012, the airline hired five bikini-clad beauty-pageant contestants to perform a Hawaiian-themed danced on board one of its flights.
The Vietnamese government fined the airline $900 for the incident.
Bikini-clad models aside, VietJet has followed an aggressive and successful growth strategy. According to the Centre for Aviation, VietJet has already captured 40% of the country’s domestic airline market and saw its passenger traffic increase 70% in 2015.
This year, VietJet is expected to overtake the nation’s flag carrier – Vietnam Airlines- as its largest domestic airline.
VietJet is also expected to hold an IPO as early as the second quarter of 2016, Bloomberg reported.
The 100-aircraft order is a landmark deal for Boeing in Vietnam. The country has long been an Airbus stronghold in Asia. Until now, VietJet has operated an all Airbus fleet and currently has firm orders for more than 100 additional A320-family jets. The country’s other major airlines – Vietnam Airlines and Jetstar Pacific – all operate predominantly Airbus fleets.
The 737 Max 200 is a high-density seating variant of the Boeing’s next-generation 737 Max 8 airliner. With the addition of an extra set of exit doors, Boeing will be able to fit 11 additional passengers per airline – boosting capacity to 200.
Boeing expects to deliver the VietJet planes between 2019 and 2023.
VietJet currently operates 28 Airbus A320 and A321 airliners with an average age of just 3.6 years.
Here’s the infamous Hawaiian-themed in-flight performance: