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Airline Boosts Order for Boeing's 717 Jets

April 16, 2002|PETER PAE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Midwest Express Airlines Inc. said Monday that it is buying more Boeing Co. 717 airplanes than originally planned, providing a morale boost for the Long Beach-based program that was almost shuttered last year because of a lack of orders.

The Milwaukee-based airline said it placed firm orders for 25 717s, up from 20 under the initial memorandum of understanding signed in April 2001, raising the overall value of the deal to $940 million from $750 million.

The order is the largest single deal for Boeing's smallest jetliner in three years.

For its part, Midwest Express said it asked Boeing to accelerate delivery of the 717s from one every other month under the original terms to one every month, mainly so it can retire its aging DC-9 fleet more quickly.

Deliveries of the 88-passenger planes will begin in February 2003 and continue into 2005.

The production line for the 717 program, which employs 2,300, got a reprieve in December after Boeing officials considered shutting down Southern California's last remaining commercial aircraft manufacturing facility. Before the Midwest Express order, Boeing had registered 137 orders for the airplanes and had delivered 96. The 717 program was launched in 1995 by the then-McDonnell Douglas Corp.

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