KLM has underlined its commitment to Boeing's Next Generation 737 family by becoming the first European operator to order the stretched 737-900.

The order for four aircraft is a blow to Airbus Industrie, which had campaigned hard to sell the A321 to KLM as part of attempts to complete a virtual clean sweep of European flag carriers with the single-aisle family.

The move is not entirely unexpected, however, since it comes on top of a KLM contract for eight -800s, the first of which is due for delivery in 1999. The announcement also continues the airline's traditional loyalty to Boeing.

The KLM order, added to a batch of nine 737-800s announced by lessor International Lease Finance (ILFC), brought the official tally of Next Generation 737 sales to 1,012. Sales unofficially passed 1,000 in early August with the sale of more aircraft to Delta Air Lines.

Source: Flight International