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TUI Travel to buy 60 new Boeing aircraft worth $6 billion

05/31/2013 | Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - British travel firm TUI Travel has agreed a deal to buy 60 of Boeing's 737 MAX jets with an option to buy a further 90 more of the fuel-efficient aircraft.

TUI Travel, which operates Britain's Thomson Airways, said on Friday the initial deal for 60 planes, powered by CFM International's LEAP-1B engines, had been secured at a "significant discount to the list price" of $6.09 billion.

The world's largest tour operator, which expects the jets to be delivered between January 2018 and March 2023, said such a large deal would represent a class 1 transaction, meaning it would require shareholder approval.

The 737 MAX is the latest narrow-body plane by Boeing and competes with the A320neo made by European rival Airbus.

U.S. planemaker Boeing has said the 737 MAX will burn 13 percent less fuel than current 737 models, a figure that exceeds earlier estimates. The plane is due to enter production in 2015 and be delivered to customers from 2017.

TUI Travel, which operates six European airlines with 141 aircraft, received the first of its 13 Boeing 787 Dreamliners planes on Friday from a previous order and said its latest deal with Boeing was part of its move to renew its short and long-haul fleet with fuel-efficient aircraft.

"Being able to offer our customers the most advanced, comfortable aircraft, whether they are travelling with us to short or long-haul destinations, while reducing our environmental impact, will only strengthen our position," said TUI Travel Chief Executive Peter Long.

The deal comes as British low-cost airline easyJet edges towards making a firm order for at least 100 updated Airbus or Boeing jets worth around $10 billion, with as many again in options.

(Reporting by Sarah Young and Rhys Jones; editing by Kate Holton)

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