UAE's national carrier Etihad Airways on Wednesday said it plans to buy five Boeing 777-200 planes from Air India as part of its accelerated network growth plan.
Etihad, which plans to buy a stake in Jet Airways, signed a Letter of Intent with Air India in Mumbai earlier this week, paving the way for the deal, UAE's official news agency WAM reported.
The Boeing 777-200 LRs, the longest range passenger aircraft in operation, are being acquired to support the company's accelerated network growth plan.
The aircraft will be used on the airline's new route between Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles, announced on Tuesday, which is scheduled to start on June 1, 2014.
"The Boeing 777-200 LR is a fantastic addition, giving us extra reach immediately and complementing our long term fleet strategy," James Hogan, president and chief executive officer of Etihad Airways, said.
"We are looking forward to starting direct services to Los Angeles, as well as increasing our flying to South America. This is the aircraft to do that."
Subject to approvals, the aircraft will be delivered to Etihad Airways from the beginning of 2014, with each will be re-fitted in a three-class cabin configuration consistent with similar aircraft in the Etihad Airways fleet. The first aircraft is expected to enter service in April 2014.
The purchase comes as Etihad Airways finalises details on a new fleet order to meet its organic growth and expansion requirements up to 2025, in line with its rolling network plan.
The Boeing 777-200 LR, of which less than 60 were manufactured, has a design range of 17,370 km, allowing it to connect almost any city in the world from Etihad Airways' hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
In September, Etihad said it plans to more than triple number of seats on its Delhi and Mumbai routes from November following the Indian Cabinet's approval to increase seats between India and Abu Dhabi.
The Cabinet had recently approved an exponential increase in seat capacity to nearly 50,000 seats per week from 13,000 seats per week between India and Abu Dhabi.