Boeing Gets $2 Billion In New Orders For Jets

Boeing today announced it has received new orders and options for jets worth about $2 billion, including an order that will launch another 737 model, the 900.

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines today ordered 10 of the newest twinjets for delivery beginning in 2001.

It also ordered two 737-300s for delivery next year, and three 737-700s for delivery in 1999. The airline reserved options for another 10 Boeing 737s. The total value of its orders and options was more than $1 billion.

A second batch of orders came from American Airlines of Fort Worth, which ordered eight widebody jets - four 777s and four 767s - worth about $930 million. Alaska, which has been converting its fleet to 737s and phasing out its MD-80s, will configure its new 737s with two classes. It will operate the new models with 174 seats, the 300s with 140 seats and the 700s with 122 seats.

The 737-900, discussed with customers by Boeing for more than six months, is designed to capture the market between the present 737s and the smallest 757. It will compete with Airbus Industrie's A321.

The new 900 will be almost eight feet longer than the 737-800 and can be fit into the present assembly line at Renton with other models. All are powered by CFM56 engines produced by General Electric and SNECMA of France.

The first 737-700 will be delivered next week to Southwest Airlines. The new 600 and 800 models, also part of the next generation of Boeing's smallest jet, will follow next year.

"This mix of equipment, when combined with our existing fleet, gives us the most cost-effective, fuel-efficient means of serving our short, intermediate and long-distance markets," said John Kelly, Alaska chairman and chief executive.

Alaska currently operates 78 jets, including 36 of the 737s and 42 MD80s. It is scheduled to receive nine more 737-400s next year.

The American order includes four 777s that previously had been under option and will bring that airline's total 777s to 11. The first nine will be delivered in 1999, the rest in 2000.

Its long-range 767s ordered today will be delivered in 1999. American had firmed up its initial 777 order in June after earlier signing a deal for long-term purchase rights for Boeing 737s, 757s and 767s.

American also announced today it is buying Rolls-Royce engines for its 777s and will use them on all of the models in the future. American, Rolls-Royce's largest overseas customer, also uses the British-made engines on its Boeing 747s and Fokker 100s, and plans to use them on American Eagle Embraer regional jets.

Today's firm orders bring Boeing's order book to 492 this year, worth more than $36 billion.

Polly Lane's phone message number is 206-464-2149. Her e-mail address is: