FedEx to take 13 Boeing 757 options

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Memphis-based cargo operator FedEx has agreed to purchase 13 of 16 options for Boeing 757s, a July financial filing shows.

The options were attached to a deal to purchase 14 firm 757s from United Airlines, reached in March.

These 13 757s will be delivered in 2014 and 2015 of FedEx's fiscal year ending 31 May based on a 14 June agreement, the filing shows. The aircraft are being converted from passenger aircraft into freighters.

Deliveries of the first 14 firm aircraft began in fiscal 2013, with all but one of the aircraft expected to enter the FedEx fleet in fiscal 2014, the filing shows.

FedEx owned 89 757-200s its fleet as of 31 May 2013 including 16 aircraft not in service and waiting for passenger to freighter conversions, regulatory filings show.

As part of an aircraft modernisation plan, FedEx projects that by May 2018 its 757-200 fleet will grow to 143 aircraft.

United Airlines' chief financial officer John Rainey said the carrier plans to remove 73 domestic 757-200s from its fleet over the next two and a half years and replace them with 737-900ERs. The carrier operates 129 757-200s. Eighty-eight of the aircraft have Pratt & Whitney PW2000 engines and the remaining aircraft have Rolls-Royce RB211s.

FedEx is adding the 757s as part of a fleet modernisation plan, which includes adding new Boeing 767-300s and 777 freighters to its fleet as well as the 757s that have already been in service. As part of that plan, it has been accelerating the retirements of older aircraft. In May 2013, the cargo carrier accelerated the retirement of 76 Airbus A310s and Boeing MD-10 aircraft and engines and announced the permanent retirement of 10 aircraft. It also shortened the lives of 54 aircraft one year earlier.