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China Eastern says to buy 80 Boeing 737s in NT$8 bil. deal

WASHINGTON -- U.S. aerospace giant Boeing said Friday that China Eastern Airlines has agreed to buy 80 737 aircraft, its biggest single-aisle purchase to date by a Chinese airline.

The deal, a mix of current 737s and the new 737 MAX model, is worth more than US$8 billion deal at list prices, Boeing said. Airlines typically receive discounts on orders.

“We look forward to making history with China Eastern as they are poised to make the largest purchase for single-aisle airplanes by a Chinese airline,” said Ihssane Mounir, vice president of Boeing's sales and marketing for Northeast Asia, said in the statement.

Boeing did not provide details on the breakdown of the plane models or delivery dates.

In May, Boeing's archrival, European aircraft maker Airbus, won an order from China Southern Airlines for 80 single-aisle A320s with a list value of US$7.9 billion.

State-controlled China Eastern, headquartered in Shanghai, operates a fleet of more than 430 aircraft, including Boeing and Airbus jetliners.

In a filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange Friday, China Eastern said it had agreed to buy 80 Boeing airplanes valued at US$7.4 billion, citing Boeing's 2012 list prices.

The airline said it received “substantive price concessions” and as a result it was buying the aircraft significantly below the list price and at even more favorable terms than those under a 2012 deal with Boeing to buy 20 777-300ERs.

China Eastern also did not reveal the breakdfown of the airplanes, saying only they were “mainly” the energy-efficient 737 MAX series.

The airline said it decided to buy the Boeing aircraft due to market demand and the company's strategy to build a route network with Shanghai as the core hub and Xi'an and Kunming as the regional hubs.

The Boeing airplanes are expected to be delivered in stages from 2016 to 2020, it said.

As part of the agreement, China Eastern said it would dispose of 20 aging Boeing aircraft — 15 737-300s and five 757s — to the Chicago-based Boeing for an unspecified amount of cash.

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