Page last updated at 09:29 GMT, Thursday, 1 April 2010 10:29 UK

Australia's Virgin Blue to buy 105 new Boeing planes

Virgin Blue aircraft
The Australian airline is sending positive signals

Australian airline Virgin Blue says it will buy up to 105 new aircraft from manufacturer Boeing in its biggest single order.

The deal signals that the Australian market is recovering, with delivery scheduled from June 2011 to 2017.

The airline would not reveal the price, although its chief executive, Brett Godfrey said that it was "attractive".

"Virgin Blue was fortunate to take advantage of the downturn in the market," he said.

The price achieved was lower than 2001 levels and the group expects to finalise the fund arrangements for the aircraft shortly, according to Mr Godfrey.

Virgin Blue is Australia's second largest airline, behind Qantas. The deal includes 50 Boeing 737-800NG aircraft, with 25 additional firm delivery positions secured as options and 30 future purchase rights.

A significant number of the aircraft is to replace its existing fleet, while the remainder is intended for new routes and to boost frequency if needed.

"Securing this agreement now places Virgin Blue in a strong position to prepare for steady future growth as domestic and short-haul markets recover," says Mr Godfrey.

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