Ryanair's hefty order for additional 737s is a coup for Boeing in its long-running rivalry with European consortium Airbus to dominate the...

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LONDON — Ryanair’s hefty order for additional 737s is a coup for Boeing in its long-running rivalry with European consortium Airbus to dominate the aerospace market.

The Irish budget carrier said yesterday it has ordered 70 planes valued at $4 billion from Boeing and has taken the option to buy 70 more, signaling the airline is continuing its rapid growth across Europe.

Ryanair said most of the 70 firm orders for the Boeing 737-800 aircraft will be delivered between 2008 and 2012, allowing the carrier to maintain its planned double-digit growth during the latter years of this decade.

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The list price for the planes is $4 billion. The airline declined to say exactly how much it is paying for the planes.

The agreement, subject to shareholder approval, brings the total Ryanair order book with Boeing to 225 firm orders and 193 options.

Ryanair said that by the end of the year it will have taken delivery of about 100 new Boeing jets from an original order of 155.

Chairman David Bonderman said the airline considered the Boeing 737-800s — introduced into its fleet in 1999 — to be the most efficient narrow-body short-haul aircraft available.

“The 737-800 has significantly reduced our unit operating costs and allowed us to reduce our airfares each year for the last five years,” Bonderman said.

Ryanair said the latest order, combined with a new pricing structure, would help the airline push unit operating costs — excluding fuel — lower for the next five years.

“This will enable Ryanair to offer even lower fares and underpin our growth strategy as we plan to double traffic from 34 million passengers in 2005-06 to more than 70 million passengers in 2011-12,” Bonderman said.

Ryanair said the 70 new aircraft will create more than 2,500 jobs at the airline, principally at its existing 12 European bases, with the remainder at the 10 or more new bases it plans to develop in the next seven years.

The carrier has been aggressive in opening new routes in recent months. It operates 220 routes across 19 countries.