Air France said yesterday that it plans to replace part of its aging fleet of cargo planes with Boeing's new 777 freighter, but the airline...

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Air France said yesterday that it plans to replace part of its aging fleet of cargo planes with Boeing’s new 777 freighter, but the airline would not say whether it will become the launch customer for the proposed new airplane.

Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel confirmed that Air France is among the airlines interested in the plane, but he also would not speculate on when the French airline might bring the airplane into its fleet, The Associated Press reported.

Air France spokesman Jean-Claude Couturier said the 777 freighter is the favored option to replace its eight Boeing 747-200s. But Air France would not comment on a report in financial daily La Tribune that the carrier is about to become Boeing’s launch customer by ordering seven of the 777 freighters.

Boeing said in November that it would begin offering a 777 freighter to customers, aiming to put the airplane into service by the end of 2008. But the company has yet to snag a launch customer that would make the new freighter program a reality.

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The 777 freighter would be based on the passenger version of the long-range 777-200LR, which is scheduled to enter service in early 2006. The freighter would be able to carry 222,000 pounds of cargo up to 5,200 nautical miles.

Meanwhile, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, state-owned Biman Bangladesh Airlines said it planned to buy 10 new wide-bodied Airbus and Boeing aircraft, valued at about $1 billion.

Spokesman Syed Ahsan Hossain Kazi told Reuters on Thursday that the airline wanted to buy six Airbus A330s and four Boeing 777s, although the decision by the airline’s board requires approval from a ministerial committee that reviews purchases.

Separately, Airbus won a contract from AirAsia, for 60 planes worth $3.8 billion at list prices.

The order for 60 planes is 20 more than the airline had said in December it intended to buy, Airbus said in a statement reported yesterday by Bloomberg News. The planes on order are all single-aisle A320s. The airline also took options for 40 additional planes. The A320 lists for $63 million.