Graham Warwick/ATLANTA

INTERNATIONAL LEASE Finance (ILFC) has ordered 54 Boeing 737-600/-700/-800s for delivery between November 1997 and late 2004.

The manufacturer, which now holds orders for 208 next-generation 737s, has valued the ILFC deal at about $2.25 billion. CFM56-7 turbofans to power the ILFC aircraft are valued at more than $500 million by CFM International.

The San Francisco-based leasing company has now placed orders for 232 737s, according to Boeing, 80 of which remain to be delivered (including the latest order). ILFC has placed a total of 358 aircraft orders with Boeing since 1997, accounting for 16% of deliveries.

ILFC already operates 154 737s, including aircraft acquired from sources other than the manufacturer. President Steven Udvar-Hazy cites the 737's reliability, "superior economics, wide customer base and excellent after-delivery support". The exact mix of 108/132-passenger -600s, 128/149-passenger -700s and 160/189-passenger -800s in the latest order will be determined later, Boeing says.

Negotiations have been under way for two years, and ILFC is reported to have secured the 737s for less than $30 million apiece, compared to a list price of more than $40 million. The next-generation 737 was launched in 1993 with a Southwest Airlines order for 63 -700s. Scandinavian Airlines System ordered 35 -600s in May.

Source: Flight International