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Air China to buy 45 Boeing planes

Flag carrier Air China said on Tuesday it would buy 15 Boeing 777 airplanes and 30 Boeing 737s in one of the biggest plane orders by a Chinese carrier.

The planes, to be delivered between 2011 and 2015, have a total list price of $6.3 billion but Air China to receive concessions that will lower that price, the airline said in a statement. The purchase from US aircraft maker Boeing Co will boost Air China’s carrying capacity by about 35% from its 2007 level, helping the airline to develop home base Beijing as a domestic and international air transport hub, Air China said.

The airline said it would raise the money to pay for the planes through earnings, bank loans and other financing tools. It already operates Boeing planes and is waiting to take delivery of 15 of the planemaker’s new 787 Dreamliners.

Chinese airlines have been enjoying rapid growth on the back of a booming economy and Air China’s air passenger revenue jumped 16.15% to 43.6 billion yuan ($6.4 billion) last year. Chinese air traffic growth has slowed this year, partly because a major earthquake in May reduced tourist traffic. Boeing did not confirm that the Air China order was firm and made no announcement at the Farnborough Airshow, where the plane maker has already unveiled several large plane deals this week. “We’re pleased Air China has announced their intent to purchase Boeing airplanes and we look forward to finalizing our commercial negotiations,” a Boeing spokeswoman in Seattle said in an e-mailed statement. (Reuters)