Turkish Airlines has confirmed its long-anticipated order for Next Generation Boeing 737s, with the decision to place firm orders for 26 737-800s, plus 23 options.

The deal, announced by Turkish Airlines chairman Cem Kozlu, is worth around $2.5 billion and calls for deliveries to begin in June 1998 and continue until 2002, with option aircraft due for delivery between 2000 and 2002. The 737-800s, which were selected over Airbus A321-200s, will replace 28 737-400s and two 737-500s operated by the airline on lease.

In June, the Turkish Government concluded its evaluation of bids from Airbus Industrie, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas to supply up to 50 aircraft for Turkish Airlines. The deal involved a 50% offset agreement. The airline says that the selection was made on purely commercial grounds - it is reported that Airbus chose not to match Boeing's alleged $74 million discount for the 26 firm orders.

The widebody component of the order to replace the airline's 14 A310s has not yet been announced. The Airbus A330-200 is the front-runner, with the Boeing 777 also in the running. The airline may also order more Airbus A340-300s.

The details of the 737-800 order came to light in June because of a mis-timed press release from AlliedSignal Aerospace, announcing that it had been selected to provide the aircraft's brakes. Confirmation was held up by changes within Government in Turkey.

Source: Flight International