EasyJet places order for new planes

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Low-cost airline easyJet has announced an order for another 15 aircraft

Low-cost airline easyJet has announced an order for another 15 aircraft in the latest multi-million pound drive to bolster its fleet.

The carrier confirmed it was buying 15 more Airbus A320 planes and switching a deal for the delivery of 20 A319 aircraft to larger A320s to increase passenger capacity. It also secured new options over a further 33 A320s.

EasyJet declined to reveal how much the latest 15 firm orders were worth, but said it was receiving “substantial price concessions” on the 1.1 billion US dollar (£704 million) list price.

Its orders come amid pressure from founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who has previously criticised plans to expand its fleet.

Sir Stelios, who recently resolved a long-running dispute with the firm, gave a cautious welcome to the announcement, but said he wanted greater clarity on where the planes will be deployed.

He said: “As the licensor of the easyJet brand, any move that increases easyJet’s turnover should lead to higher royalties, so today’s announcement sounds like good news at least in the short term from this perspective.”

He added: “We shall see if these 15 incremental aircraft will find deployment on profitable new routes and earn the appropriate return on capital employed. I am still hoping to get greater transparency on which routes these and any other new aircraft are to be deployed.”

The “no frills” airline currently has 193 planes and aims to increase this to 220 by the end of September 2013. Its 15 new aircraft will be delivered between 2012 and 2014.

Recently appointed chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “A central feature of the agreement is the flexibility it gives easyJet to vary the growth rate in its capacity to reflect economic conditions and market opportunities.”

EasyJet recently revealed a near-trebling in annual pre-tax profits, surging to £154 million in the year to September 30 – an increase of £99.3 million. Shares in the group rose 3% following the fleet expansion news.

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