Japan Airlines, Asia's largest air carrier by sales, said today it will buy up to 40 of Boeing's next-generation 737 aircraft to replace...

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Japan Airlines, Asia’s largest air carrier by sales, said today it will buy up to 40 of Boeing’s next-generation 737 aircraft to replace its fleet of 737-400 planes and McDonnell Douglas models.

The carrier will place firm orders for 30 Boeing 737s and hold options for 10 more. Delivery of the 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900 aircraft is expected to begin in April 2006, the airline said.

The carrier, which has bought 53 Boeing aircraft in the past 10 years, flies mostly Boeing models out of its fleet of 280 planes. The Chicago-based manufacturer dominates aircraft sales in Japan, and the country’s industrial companies get contracts to supply parts and aircraft bodies.

Japan Airlines chose Boeing over Airbus because it wants to keep the variation of aircraft makes and models in its fleet at a minimum, Vice President Fumio Tsuchiya told a news conference today in Tokyo.

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The purchase could be valued at up $1.9 billion if Japan Airlines buys 30 737-700 planes, Tsuchiya said, adding that the precise allocation of the three models is still to be decided.

The Renton-made 737, used mainly for flying medium range distances of up to 3,800 nautical miles, accounted for seven of every 10 commercial planes Boeing delivered last year.

Boeing has sold more than 5,200 of the single-aisle planes since delivery started in 1967.

The 737-700 model has a list price of up to $59 million, which doesn’t include discounts often given to carriers. The 737-800 costs up to $69.5 million, while the 737-900 costs as much as $74 million each, according to catalog prices.

Libyan airline to buy up to six 737s

CHICAGO — Boeing said yesterday it has a preliminary agreement with Libya’s Buraq Air to buy as many as six airplanes in a deal that could be worth nearly $370 million.

President Bush signed an executive order lifting economic sanctions against Libya in September, clearing the way for American companies to do business in the country.

Under the agreement, the Tripoli-based airline will buy three 737-800s with an option for three more, Boeing said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

#8212; The Associated Press