Taiwan's China Airlines on Friday ordered six next-generation Boeing Co. 737-800 planes and took options for nine more in a deal valued at up to $750 million, officials said.
The Taiwanese flag carrier said it would take delivery of the six aircraft in 1998 between August and November, and could exercise its options on the other nine jets to take delivery in 1999 or 2000.
The deal, which marks the first sale of a next-generation 737 to an Asian customer, is part of a 10-year plan to build a fleet of short- and medium-range aircraft in the 150-seat range, China Airlines said.
The new order adds to a long list for Boeing, the world's largest maker of commercial aircraft. This year, the company received orders for 261 new planes worth about $18 billion, more than double 1994's orders for 120 planes.
Analysts said they expect Boeing to win a larger order soon, when Malaysian Airline System announces orders for about 30 planes. The decision to buy planes from either Boeing or European rival Airbus Industrie is expected soon.
The 737 has been the world's most successful jetliner, with more than 2,500 delivered since its launch 30 years ago.
The majority of 737s have been sold to U.S. and European airlines, but Boeing spokesman Mark Hooper said the domestic and regional Asian market is being targeted with the newest generation of planes, which will begin rolling off the assembly line in 1997.
"It's a perfect airplane for China [Airlines]," Hooper said.
The 737-800s, which can seat from 160 to 189 passengers, will replace 737-200 and Airbus A320 passenger planes used on China Airlines' domestic and some of its international routes.
With a range of slightly more than 3,000 miles, the plane could reach destinations in Southeast Asia.
The planes sell for between $43 million and $50 million each, Hooper said. With training and optional spare parts, the deal could be worth as much as $750 million, he said.
The new 737 has been a big part of Boeing's success in 1995, which has seen the world's biggest jet maker announce orders for 261 jets valued at about $18 billion, more than double 1994's orders of 120 airplanes valued at $7.76 billion.
In one of the year's biggest coups for Boeing, Sweden's Scandinavian Airlines Systems ordered 41 of the new 737-600s worth $1.4 billion, bypassing a competing offer from longtime supplier McDonnell Douglas Corp.
Boeing's stock closed up 75 cents at $77.50 on the New York Stock Exchange.