El Al to expand 737 fleet with -900ERs

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Israeli flag-carrier El Al is to acquire four new Boeing 737-900ERs for fleet modernisation, and is placing options on another pair.

The airline states that the decision will increase its 737 operation from 14 to 18 aircraft.

El Al says it has signed an agreement to purchase the -900ERs and values the deal at $215-320 million covering four to six aircraft. They will be used on European regional destinations.

"Under the agreement the company is granted conversion rights to other models," it adds. "At this point the company has not made a final decision about the deal's financing mechanism and is looking at various options."

The 737-900ERs will be delivered from late 2013 to 2016. They will be configured in two classes with around 160 seats, says the carrier.

It is acquiring the CFM International CFM56-powered twinjets to replace its older short- and medium-haul fleet, including its Boeing 757-200s, which are approaching 20 years of age.

El Al's 737 fleet comprises -700 and -800 variants.