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FedEx said Wednesday that as part of its ongoing fleet modernization, it has ordered four Boeing 767-300 freighter jets.

It also deferred delivery of two much larger and more expensive 777 freighter jets. With global cargo demand showing few signs of recovery, those two aircraft were pushed out a year from 2015 to 2016.

The new 767 order is worth $742 million at list prices. Using market data from aircraft valuation firm Avitas, the real purchase price after standard discounts is about $320 million.

FedEx now has 46 firm orders for 767s and says it is committed to four more, for a total of 50.

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Aside from a dozen orders for the passenger version of the 767, the vast majority of the commercial 767 order book comes from FedEx. Those orders should see Boeing through to the introduction of the Air Force tanker version of the 767 around 2015.

FedEx, the world’s largest express package company, has been updating its fleet with new 767s and 777s and used, converted 757 passenger jets.

However, the global downturn in air cargo since 2008 has led the company to delay some of its modernization plans.

At the end of 2011, FedEx deferred delivery of 11 777 freighters. In June, it converted orders for four 777s into 767s of equal value.

FedEx has already taken delivery of 23 of the 777 freighters. Boeing’s order website shows pending firm orders for nine more.

However, FedEx’s annual report indicates it still has outstanding obligations to take an additional 24 Boeing 777s, not nine.

That includes an order for nine 777s with a single condition attached: that its airline work force continues to be covered by the 1926 Railway Labor Act rather than the National Labor Relations Act. The status quo makes unionization of that work force less likely.

Dominic Gates: (206) 464-2963 or

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