BOEING TO PRODUCE 50 717 JETLINERS FOR TWA.
Trans World Airlines announced Wednesday that it has placed a long-awaited order for 50 of Boeing's 717 jetliners valued at about $1.4 billion, representing a major boost to the 100-seat plane.
The order assures continued production of the jet, which has been slow to attract customers, at the massive Douglas Aircraft plant in Long Beach.
The order brings the total for the aircraft to 115 firm orders. Two 717s are in flight testing for certification, and the first delivery is scheduled for next year.
For Boeing, the order is the first big purchase of the plane, formerly known as the McDonnell Douglas MD-95, in more than three years.
Development of the 717 was launched by McDonnell Douglas based on a 50-plane order from tiny AirTran of Florida in 1995, before Boeing's acquisition of McDonnell. In the years since, the only other customer until this week was a small European leasing firm, Bavaria International Aircraft. It ordered five of the planes in June.
``This decision is particularly meaningful to us because TWA looked at all its options and ultimately they chose the 717 for its low operating costs and the overall value it provides,'' said Alan Mulally, president of Boeing Commercial Airplane Group.
TWA also ordered 75 Airbus planes, including 50 of the 100-seat A318 and 25 from the A320 family, with options for 75 others. TWA wouldn't discuss financing terms except to say it would lease, not own, the planes.
The order comes as the carrier tries to upgrade one of the industry's oldest fleets, betting it can lower operating costs and attract higher-fare business travelers. Even with favorable leasing terms, the transaction will tax TWA, which has had two brushes with bankruptcy this decade and has junk-rated credit.