Vietnam Airlines 2007 profit rises 6.4 pct

HANOI Mon Dec 31, 2007 10:18am GMT

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HANOI Dec 31 (Reuters) - National carrier Vietnam Airlines earned a gross profit of 370 billion dong ($23 million) this year, up 6.4 percent from last year after revenues grew more than 15 percent, it said in a statement.

Revenues of the state-run unlisted airline were estimated to have risen 15.5 percent to 20.37 trillion dong, the statement seen on Monday said, without detailing the annual net profit.

The Hanoi-based airline, Vietnam's largest, carried more than 8 million passengers in 2007, 2 percent above its initial plan for the whole year, of which more than 3.2 million were foreigners, the statement said.

Vietnam Airlines also carried 115,100 tonnes of cargo, up 8.2 percent from 2006, while its seat occupancy rate rose to 75.4 percent in 2007, from 71.2 percent last year.

Earlier this month the national carrier and an aircraft leasing firm, in which it is one of five founding shareholders, signed contracts with European planemaker EADS EAD.PA to buy 10 Airbus 350-900XWB passenger jets and 20 single-aisle A321 jets.

Vietnam expects air passenger traffic to more than double to 32.4 million people by 2020 from 14.5 million a year now, industry reports said.

Vietnam Airlines, pressed to keep up with demand as Vietnam targets its economic growth at 9 percent next year after growing 8.48 percent this year, said it planned to expand its fleet to 110 by 2020, 74 of them from Airbus.

Last month, it bought four Boeing (BA.N) 787-8 Dreamliners and Vietnam Aircraft Leasing Co bought eight of the model.

Three other airlines in Vietnam are Pacific Airlines -- 30 percent owned by Qantas Airways Ltd. (QAN.AX), VASCO and VietJet Air, the country's first fully private airlines. ($1=16,114 dong) (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; editing by Kim Coghill)