AirTran defers 18 737-700s

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AirTran Airways will defer 18 Boeing 737-700 aircraft to limit growth as it battles rising fuel costs. 

The carrier will add six aircraft to its fleet next year, but 18 Boeing 737-700s that had been scheduled for delivery between 2009 and 2011 have been deferred to 2013-2014

"As we stated during our first quarter earnings call, as a result of continuing record high fuel costs, we are reducing planned growth for September, 2008, through at least 2009 from 10% to no more than flat. This transaction will accomplish a substantial portion of that plan," says Bob Fornaro, AirTran Airways' president and CEO.

AirTran has sold four Boeing 737-700s to Arik Air. The sale is expected to improve planned cash flow by over $40 million through cash gains on the sale and the avoidance of equity investments in the aircraft.

The airline currently operates 54 Boeing 737-700 series aircraft as well as 87 Boeing 717-200 aircraft.