Boeing confirms LAPA as customer for six 737-700s

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Boeing confirms that Argentinian carrier Lineas Aereas Privadas Argentinas (LAPA) is the previously unidentified customer for six 737-700s whose list prices total $270 million.

The manufacturer had already included the aircraft in its last set of cumulative commercial jet order totals but until today had not identified LAPA as the customer.

LAPA was the first Latin American airline to operate the 737-700, taking its first example on lease in July 1998. Airclaims' CASE database lists LAPA as now operating eight 737-700s - three leased from ILFC and five from GECAS - and having agreed leases on eight more, still to be delivered. All but one will be taken from ILFC.

As a result, LAPA's own latest order for six 737-700s could increase its 737-700 fleet to as many as 22 aircraft.

The Argentinian airline also operates 12 Boeing 737-200s, seven of them leased from GECAS, but plans to replace these with 737-700s as more new aircraft arrive.

It lost a 737-200 in a fatal accident at Buenos Aires' downtown Jorge Newbery Air Park airport last year, the crew failing to set flaps for the aircraft's take-off and the 737 over-running the runway and a major road.

LAPA also operates two Boeing 757-200s and a 767-300ER widebody leased from ILFC.

In addition to its network of scheduled services to Argentinian domestic and regional international destinations, LAPA also operates an extensive charter programme to Brazil and the Caribbean, mainly with the 757s and 767.

Boeing says that LAPA plans to add charter flying programmes to Puerto Rico, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, Cancun in Mexico, Varadero in Cuba and St Maarten in the near future.

Modelled after low-cost US carrier Southwest Airlines, LAPA has grown since its formation as a turboprop operation in 1977 to capture more than 35% of Argentina's domestic scheduled market in the first quarter of 2000, and carries some 2.5 million passengers annually.