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Etihad buys 45 Boeing passenger jets

FARNBOROUGH, July 14 – Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, said here Monday it had agreed to buy 45 Boeing passenger jets worth 9.4 billion dollars (5.9 billion euros).

Etihad, which launched in 2003, announced at the Farnborough International Airshow that it was buying 35 mid-sized Dreamliner 787 jets — Boeing\’s new fuel-efficient aircraft — and 10 mid-sized Boeing 777s.

"The new-generation Boeing aircraft we have ordered are among the most fuel efficient and will help maintain Etihad\’s fleet as one of the youngest and greenest in the sky," Etihad chief executive James Hogan said in a statement issued following a press conference in Farnborough, outside London.

Etihad said it would take delivery of the 777s in 2011 and Dreamliners in 2015.

Oil-producing states — such as the United Arab Emirates — are snapping up new aircraft thanks to extra revenues being earned from rocketing crude prices. Soaring fuel costs are meanwhile encouraging airlines to invest in energy-efficient planes.

New low-cost airline FlyDubai kicked-off the Farnborough Airshow on Monday by announcing a 4.0 billion-dollar deal for 54 single-aisle Boeing 737 passenger jets.

Saudi Arabian Airlines later announced a deal to buy eight wide-bodied Airbus A330s in a deal worth 1.6 billion dollars.

Canadian planemaker Bombardier stole the limelight ahead of this year\’s Farnborough show by announcing Sunday that it planned to launch its eco-friendly CSeries single-aisle passenger jet in 2013 — a plane it promised would "deliver dramatic energy savings."

The week-long Farnborough Airshow is a traditional battle ground for planemakers, especially Boeing and Airbus, for securing orders of new aircraft.

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The biennial event was attracting the usual mix of industry executives and plane enthusiasts for deal-making and the witnessing of flypasts by civil and military jets.

Boeing was meanwhile expected to deliver its first-ever Dreamliner in the third quarter of 2009, after being beset by delays. The US group\’s first new model in more than a decade takes advantage of recent huge advances in aviation technology.

Up to 50 percent of the primary structure of the plane — including the fuselage and wing — is made of composites such as carbon-fibre, which reduce its weight.

Boeing, which aims to build some 2,000 Dreamliners over the next two decades, maintains that the jet will consume 20 percent less fuel then similar-sized planes already on the market. The Dreamliner will compete with Airbus\’ A350 plane.

"Boeing\’s commitment to provide the world\’s most fuel-efficient airplanes is clearly demonstrated by both the 777 and 787, and we know Etihad will benefit from the reliability and efficiency these airplanes bring to twin-aisle operations," Boeing president and chief executive Jim McNerney said on Monday.

A total of 58 customers worldwide have ordered nearly 900 Dreamliners since the programme was launched in 2004, making it the fastest-selling new commercial jetliner in history according to Boeing.

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