Lan to purchase at least four more 767s

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Lan is close to completing a deal with Boeing to purchase four additional Boeing 767-300ER aircraft and is seeking to acquire a fifth to help it cope with delays in Boeing 787 deliveries.

The carrier's CFO, Alejandro de la Fuente, revealed during a conference call today to discuss third quarter earnings that Lan has "almost concluded an order for four additional Boeing 767s aircraft for delivery in 2011".

He adds that the aircraft will "allow us to continue to grow on long-haul routes despite the expected delays in delivery of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner".

de la Fuente says Lan is "also interested in purchasing a fifth 767".

Lan now operates 25 767-300ERs and is already committed to taking three more 767-300ERs from an outstanding order. Originally Lan was slated to take one of these aircraft this month and two more late next year but de la Fuente says the carrier is now "assuming" the first of these will be delayed until the first quarter of 2009 and the other two until early 2010 due to the Boeing machinist strike.

He adds Lan has adjusted its fleet plan accordingly but the expected delays have not yet been confirmed by Boeing.

Lan, which in recent years has been growing capacity at double-digit clips, was banking on the 787 to drive more growth of its long-haul network during the next decade. The carrier last year committed to acquiring 32 787s, including 26 from Boeing and six through leases, for delivery from 2011. But over the last several months the carrier has been reviewing various options for acquiring additional widebody aircraft to offset a roughly two year-delay in 787 deliveries.

Executives declined today to give a new date for the start of its 787 deliveries. The carrier said the deal for four additional 767s is being negotiated directly with Boeing but is not related to a compensation package it is also negotiating in relation to 787 delivery delays.

Lan is also scheduled to take delivery of the first of four Boeing 777 freighters in the first quarter of next year. de la Fuente says the carrier is "assuming delays for the 777 freighter" due to the machinist strike but did not provide specifics.

The company's newly revised 2009 fleet plan still includes delivery of two 777 freighters as well as five passenger aircraft. The carrier's new 2010 fleet plan includes 10 additional passenger aircraft.