SYDNEY: Discount Australian airline Virgin Blue is boosting its fleet with 10 Boeing 737-800 aircraft and an option for 40 more, as it battles Qantas Airways and targets international routes.
British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s airline said yesterday it had hammered out bargain terms for its first outright plane purchases, capitalising on discount price tags as manufacturers grapple with aviation industry turmoil. The deal followed almost a year of negotiations with Boeing Co and its European rival Airbus.
“This has been the best time in aviation history to buy aeroplanes,” Brett Godfrey, Virgin Blue’s chief executive, told reporters.
The companies said the contract would be worth a maximum of US$3.1bil for all 50 planes, but industry experts say Boeing would have sliced a healthy chunk off the list price to fend off Airbus competition.
The initial 10 Boeing 737 aircraft, worth US$600mil at list price, will be the first to be bought rather than leased by Virgin Blue and will take its fleet to 40 Boeing jets.
Deliveries of the new aircraft are scheduled to begin in August. – Reuters
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