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GE Leasing Firm Orders 30 Boeing 737 Jets

From Reuters

An aircraft leasing company has placed an order for 30 737 jetliners, Boeing Co. said Wednesday.

The order by GE Commercial Aviation Services, a unit of General Electric Co., is worth about $2 billion at list prices.

It was Boeing’s largest jetliner order so far this year and signaled that demand remained strong despite expectations of a slowdown after an order boom last year.

The order was the latest in a series of 737 purchases by the GE unit, which has been enjoying strong demand for the twin-engine, single-aisle plane in emerging markets such as China and India.

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The unit, which announced the order in a joint news release with Boeing, also took options on 30 additional jetliners.

“It is a very popular aircraft model and we quickly leased all of the planes we ordered last year, so we needed more to satisfy our customers’ demand,” said Henry Hubschman, chief executive of GE Commercial Aviation Services.

The planes will be delivered from 2008 through 2010.

Shares of Chicago-based Boeing closed up $1.67 at $79.18 after hitting an all-time high of $79.45 earlier in the session.

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The GE unit “is a customer of some significance,” said Mark Davis, an analyst at FTN Midwest Securities. This is “obviously a very strong order for the 737 line of aircraft.”

The order was the first by a leasing company to include the 737-900, an extended-range version of the plane and the latest model in the jetliner’s family, Davis said.

He said Boeing shares also were benefiting from a report in the Seattle Times that the head of leasing giant International Lease Finance Corp. of Century City had urged European archrival Airbus to redesign its mid-size A350 plane, saying the current design would be an also-ran to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

Separately Wednesday, Chile’s LAN Airlines said it would buy three Boeing 767-300s for $270 million. Delivery is scheduled for 2007 and 2008.

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