Slovakia-based budget airline SkyEurope said on Tuesday it had ordered 16 new Boeing 737-700 planes worth USD$880 million at list prices to completely renew its fleet.
Spokesman Eryk Klopotowski said the company had the option to buy 16 more planes in the future. The entire deal would be worth USD$1.8 billion, he added.
"What we do is to firstly exchange the fleet and then add aircraft," he said.
The ordered planes will be delivered in 2006-2007, while the rest could join the fleet in 2008 and 2009 if the company's strong growth in passenger numbers continue, he said.
The carrier now operates seven Boeing 737-500 and six Embraer propeller planes. It said earlier this year it wanted to add four new jet planes to its fleet for the summer season.
Klopotowski said the ordered aircraft will be leased and financed by General Electric's Commercial Aviation Service (GECAS) and that the first plane, which would be more cost effective and have higher capacity than the current ones, should arrive in February next year.
The company, which is considering options for further expansion including a possible public share offering, flew 1.2 million passengers over the past 12 months ending in April, and Klopotowski said the growth in passenger numbers should continue in the future.