Vietnam’s VietJet seen close to major Airbus order

(Reuters) – Vietnamese low-cost airline VietJet is in talks with Airbus (EAD.PA) about an order for as many as 100 jets worth up to $10 billion, sources familiar with the discussions said on Tuesday.

A French government source had expressed hope the provisional deal would be signed in front of visiting Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Paris on Wednesday, setting the stage for 60 firm orders for medium-haul aircraft as well as options for 30 more.

But a source close to the airline said the package was still being fine-tuned and the signing ceremony was in doubt as further negotiation was needed.

“We need more time,” the source said.

The order could involve between 92 and 100 A320 or A321 single-aisle aircraft, including both current and future versions.

If confirmed, the deal would be the latest blockbuster order from Asia’s budget carriers for aircraft produced by Airbus and its U.S. rival Boeing (BA.N), highlighting a rapid shift towards air travel that prompted Airbus to raise its long-term industry forecasts on Tuesday.

Industry experts say VietJet has ambitious expansion plans and hopes to duplicate the success of low-cost giants AirAsia (AIRA.KL) of Malaysia and Lion Air of Indonesia.

Those airlines have both signed record airliner orders in the presence of European or U.S. leaders.

Meanwhile VietJet has signed a joint venture in Thailand and is in talks for another in Myanmar.

Airbus declined to comment on the negotiations.