Etihad Airways today announced it will buy five Boeing 777-200LRs from Air India, the longest range passenger aircraft in operation, to support its accelerated network growth plan.
It’s an unusual move from the Abu Dhabi carrier, which traditionally orders new aircraft. The five aircraft are, on average, six years old.
Supply and timing appear to be the two main reasons behind the purchase, which wasn’t disclosed. The Boeing 777-200LR has a design range of 17,370 km but less than 60 of them have been made.
The 777-200 LRs will be used on the airline’s new route between Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles, announced yesterday, which starts on June 1. The aircraft will be delivered to Etihad from the beginning of 2014 and each will be re-fitted in a three-class configuration and the first will enter service in April 2014.
The two carriers signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) in Mumbai earlier this week paving the way for the deal.
Etihad Airways currently flies to New York, Chicago, Washington DC and Toronto in North America, and to São Paulo in Brazil, and has stated its ambition to add new services to both continents.
The purchase comes as Etihad Airways finalises details on a new fleet order which will meet its organic growth and expansion requirements to 2025.