National flag carrier Vietnam Airlines has signed a 1.7 billion USD contract to purchase 40 GEnx engines from General Electric (GE) Aviation to power its fleet.

The signing ceremony, held on October 28 in Hanoi, was attended by Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang, Deputy Foreign Minister Ha Minh Ngoc, US Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear, and Chairman of the US-ASEAN Business Council Evan Greenberg.

The state-of-the-art GEnx engines will be used for the carrier's fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. By utilising advanced GE propulsion technology, GEnx engines are designed to reduce noise, aircraft weight, fuel consumption, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, and maintenance and operating costs.

"GEnx engines, which will be transferred to Vietnam by 2015, will be installed on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. The superior features of the Dreamliners will enable Vietnam Airlines to increase its flight frequency and improve flight efficiency," said CEO Pham Ngoc Minh at the signing ceremony.

"I strongly believe that the operation of B787 will be a success, helping us to expand our network, improving our services and ultimately realising our target of becoming one of Asia's carriers of choice by 2020," he said.

The deal marks a milestone for the General Electric's efforts to strengthen its foothold in Vietnam and Southeast Asia and underlines the growing economic ties between Vietnam and the United States.

"GE and Vietnam Airlines are long-term partners…and providing (Vietnam Airlines) with the very latest technology will enhance its operating performance and environmental credentials," said Stuart Dean, GE's chief executive for the Southeast Asian region.

Positioning its internationally recognised brand as a young and modern carrier, Vietnam Airlines excelled further when signing large purchase orders of world’s most modern, environment-friendly aircraft, such as Boeing B787 and Airbus A350-900.

Vietnam Airlines currently has 82 aircraft of various types, such as Boeing 777, Airbus A330, Airbus A321, and it plans to expand its fleet to 101 planes by 2015 and to 150 planes by 2020, making solid steps integrating into the global aviation industry as one of leading regional carriers, which is fully ingrained with Vietnamese traditional culture.

The country’s national flag carrier currently operates more than 300 flights daily to 21 cities throughout the country and 28 international destinations in Asia, Europe and Australia. Its network extends to 26 countries and territories.

In 2006, after being awarded the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) certificate, a strict safety standard set by Aviation Quality Services (AQS), Vietnam Airlines joined the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as an official member, affirming its international standard.

In June 2010, Vietnam Airlines joined SkyTeam, the world’s second largest global airline alliance, affirming the carrier’s new position on the global aviation map as a strategic partner of the alliance in Southeast Asia as well as its international standard services.-VNA