Continental Airlines Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gordon Bethune today announced that the airline has agreed to purchase 15 CFM56-7-powered Next-Generation Boeing 737-900 aircraft and has taken options on 25 additional aircraft. The value of the firm engine orders is approximately $150 million.
The CFM56-7 engine is produced by CFM International (CFM), a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (Safran Group) of France and General Electric of the United States. CFM is the world's leading supplier of commercial transport aircraft engines, garnering approximately 60 percent of the 100+ passenger market in 1997 and holding a 54 percent share of this market over the past five years. To date in 1998, CFM has received firm orders for more than 400 engines.
Continental is converting 15 current 737 options into firm orders for the 737-900 and is scheduled to begin taking delivery between May 2001 and July 2002. The 25 additional options can be exercised between 2001 and 2004. With this order, Continental becomes the largest carrier to add the aircraft to its fleet. Overall, the airline has more than 100 CFM-powered 737 aircraft on firm order.
"As part of our five-year fleet plan, this latest order will allow us to accelerate the retirement of less efficient aircraft and further reduce total operating cost,'' Bethune said in a statement issued today. "It also provides our customers with the latest technology and comfort."
Continental, which is the fifth largest airline in the U.S. will use the new fuel-efficient 737-900s will be used to replace jets that will be retired as the new aircraft are delivered. By 1999, Continental's average domestic fleet age will drop from 13.8 years to approximately 7.2 years, one of the youngest in the industry.
The CFM56-7 entered service earlier this year in the U.S. and Europe on the Boeing 737-700. Both the 737-600 and 737-800 are scheduled to enter service in 1998, as well. Since the CFM56-7-powered 737 series was introduced in 1993, it has become the best-selling aircraft/engine combination in history, with 855 announced orders to date.