June 23, 2005
Abu-Dhabi based Etihad Airways is in talks with Boeing to purchase the freight version of the long-range 777 airliner, an official said in remarks published on Thursday.
"We are definitely interested in the cargo version of the Boeing 777-200LR. We have initiated talks and right now we are looking at the numbers," Werner Borchert, vice-president of operations at Etihad, told the English-language daily Gulf News.
"Etihad is also interested in the 777-200LR passenger version because we have plans to launch non-stop routes and we are looking into it but it is too early to say anything more," he added.
Last year, state-owned Etihad signed a USD$1.09 billion deal with Boeing for five wide-bodied 777-300ER planes and a memorandum of understanding with Airbus to acquire up to 36 planes worth as much as USD$7 billion.
Borchert told the newspaper that with the delivery of the five Boeing aircraft between October and December 2005, the airline would have a fleet of 14 aircraft.
Etihad, launched in 2003, is one of several fast-growing airlines in the Gulf, where big state budgets and a desire to boost tourism to the region have led to a surge in demand for new aircraft.
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