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SWISS to buy six Boeing 777 planes for $1.6 bn

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Switzerland's leading airline SWISS said Thursday that it would buy Boeing planes for the first time, ordering six long-range 777 jetliners to replace its Airbus A340s.

SWISS said it would pay 1.5 billion Swiss francs ($1.6 billion, 1.2 billion euros) for the aircraft.

"SWISS will begin replacing its present long-haul aircraft fleet from 2016 onwards. To this end, orders have been placed for six Boeing B777-300ER aircraft," said the airline, which belongs to German Lufthansa and which has never flown Boeings before.

The announcement was part of a larger Lufthansa order for 108 new Airbus and Boeing planes for a total of 9.0 billion euros.

The twin-engine Boeing jets will be used on SWISS's routes to destinations like San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Bangkok, Beijing and Johannesburg, it said in a statement, adding that the planes, with 330 seats, were so fuel efficient they would cost it 23 percent less in fuel and CO2 taxes than its four-engine A340s.

"The Boeing B777-300ER has the ideal size and range to meet our Swiss market needs," SWISS chief executive Harry Hohmeister said in the statement, pointing out that the airline needed to keep up with its competitors who were already running planes with more the 300 seats on the routes in question.

The decision was "crucial to retaining our competitive edge," he said, while pointing out that the 777 was already in service elsewhere in the Lufthansa Group, including at Austrian Airlines.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130314/swiss-buy-six-boeing-777-planes-16-bn-0