Lao Airlines gets first Airbus jet, after Libya cancels order
Lao Airlines over the weekend received the first of two Airbus jets that were initially destined for Libya, media reports said Monday, dpa reported.
The Airbus 320 was delivered to Wattaya International Airport on Saturday, two months after the state-owned national carrier signed a purchase agreement for two of the European-made jets, the Vientiane Times reported.
"The two planes were initially built for Libyan Airlines but political unrest in the country meant the delivery was impossible," the daily newspaper reported. "Lao Airlines is taking delivery of the aircraft one year earlier than planned," it added.
The 142-seater jets will replace the airline's current Franco-Italian ATR 72 turboprops on regional flights from Vientiane to Bangkok, Hanoi and Kunming.
The jets are to serve the new Vientiane-Singapore route, with flights to start November 24, the Vientiane Times reported.
The national carrier is also considering opening flights to China and South Korea, to accommodate growing travel to the land-locked communist country.
The government has named 2012 Visit Laos year, as part of its campaign to attract more tourists.
Lao Airlines received a 71-million-dollar loan from the Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao Public for the two Airbuses.
The Bank of the Laos provided another 20 million dollars to complete the 91-million-dollar purchase.
The second Airbus 320 is scheduled to be delivered next month.
The Lao Airlines fleet prior to the recent purchase consisted of eight propeller aircraft, made up of ATRs, and MA60s, another turboprop aircraft manufactured by China's Xi'an Aircraft Industrial Corporation.