HANOI, Vietnam – State-owned Vietnam Airlines is going to sell and lease back three aircraft that it has ordered in an attempt to raise money and bring down debt obligations.
The national carrier has been renovating its fleet with new, wide-body Boeing and Airbus aircraft under a plan approved by the government, using loans including those guaranteed by the government.
In its recent statement Vietnam Airlines said that, in the context of Vietnam’s rising public debt, it will try to reduce government-backed loans by selling and leasing back three A350 aircraft, which will be delivered this year and next.
“Loans for the fleet will be cut and we still have enough aircraft for operations,” it said.
Last August, the transport ministry approved Vietnam Airlines’ proposal to sell two Boeing 777 that the airline has been using for more than ten years.
Vietnam’s public debt has risen to 62.2 percent of GDP, close to the safely limit. Foreign debt is now equivalent to 43.1 percent of GDP.
A report released by the government last December named Vietnam Airlines as the second largest holder of foreign debt among state-owned firms, only after Electricity of Vietnam.
The airline, owning less than half of the country’s passenger air market, posted a pre-tax profit of over VND1.4 trillion ($57.55 million) last year, more than twice the figure in 2014.
The carrier sold a 3.48 percent stake in its IPO in November 2014 and has announced plans to sell around 20 percent to three strategic investors. Japan’s ANA has reportedly secured an 8.8 percent stake.