Airbus Group CEO Thomas Enders hinted at the possibility of manufacturing parts for its aircraft in a letter recently sent to Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, four months after the German business executive visited Vietnam.

In a meeting with the Vietnamese premier in Hanoi on July 1, Enders expressed his firm’s eagerness to collaborate with Vietnam in the field of military aircraft and airspace, and to offer help to build and run aircraft maintenance facilities in the country.

Enders told Prime Minister Dung in the letter that he was particularly interested in the premier’s expectations for the further growth of the Vietnamese aviation industry, reiterating his statement in July that Airbus would also consider setting up component manufacturing plants in the country in the coming time.

Airbus will cooperate with one of its biggest industry partners to build such facilities if the Vietnamese side backs the proposal, according to the CEO.

If established, the Vietnamese factory will be the only of its kind in Southeast Asia to manufacture the electrical safety belt, which is equipped on Airbus’ best-selling aircraft, the A320.

Airbus is willing to discuss the feasibility of the project with relevant authorities in Vietnam in order to prepare a suitable business plan to get the work done, according to the letter.

Prime Minister Dung has forwarded the letter to Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang and chairman of national flag carrier Vietnam Airlines Pham Viet Thanh for consideration, according to the Government Office.

Vo Huy Cuong, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), said whether Airbus will open a component manufacturing plant in Vietnam depends on many factors.

“Airbus may have to consider the number of its planes being used in the area, as well as compare production, labor costs and technology in Vietnam with those in other countries,” Cuong told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Thursday.

The CAAV official, however, admitted that Vietnam is a potential market for Airbus, with all of the three domestic carriers having many Airbus planes in their fleets.

Airbus has recently introduced its Airbus A380, the world's biggest passenger jet, to Vietnam Airlines.

But a top official from the national flag carrier said that the airline has yet to have plans to add the A380s to its fleet at least until 2020.

None of the current airports in Vietnam are capable of handling A380 jetliners, so Vietnam Airlines has to wait until the proposed Long Thanh International Airport is open to passengers, the official said.

While it is not clear when construction will start, the airport, which will be located in the southern province of Dong Nai, is expected to come on stream in 2020.

The global economic slowdown and the troubled international aviation market are among other reasons why Vietnam Airlines will not develop a fleet of A380s, the official added.

Tuoi Tre News - November 27, 2015