El Al Israel Airlines, which has an all-Boeing fleet, said on Wednesday it was opening talks with Boeing to buy and lease up to 15 new 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft over the next five years in a deal that could be worth $800-$900 million, its biggest-ever plane order. The deal will include the option of purchasing 13 additional aircraft and spare engines.
The airline said delivery of the new fuel-efficient aircraft would begin in the first half of 2017 through 2020.
The planes will replace a fleet of seven aging 747-400 and six 767 aircraft and will operate on medium- and long-haul routes, including lucrative North American and Asian destinations.
Chief executive David Maimon said in a statement that "El Al's board today authorized the company to hold talks with Boeing over the acquisition of wide-body Dreamliner aircraft for the purchase and lease of 15 planes in the next five years."
El Al said it expects the talks to be completed in the next few weeks and the final price would depend on how many planes it ends up buying. Maimon said: "We shall continue to preserve our position as first choice in flying to and from Israel, and as a leading company offering its customers maximum comfort, technological innovation and quality service. I am convinced that this move is a great opportunity to meet the high standard expected of us and continue the momentum of EL AL's innovation."
Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner said "We are honored that EL AL has selected the 787 for its fleet renewal plan," "The Dreamliner will be an excellent addition to EL AL's all-Boeing fleet and marks another chapter in a partnership between our two companies that spans over half a century."
In addition to the order, El Al, which has been active in buying short-haul 737-900 aircraft, has an option to acquire 13 other aircraft from Boeing but it did not elaborate.