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(photo credit: Courtesy Photo)
Arkia Israel Airlines agreed to buy two Boeing 787-9 aircraft for $366 million Tuesday, becoming the first Israeli carrier to order the new Dreamliner.
"Like the 787, our business is going global," said Joe Nakash, chairman of the Nakash Group of America, which owns Arkia. "The Dreamliner will create unprecedented access to growing markets, facilitate international business and build on the increasing demand for air travel around the world."
Arkia said it would use the 787s to service destinations in North America and the Far East when it receives the planes, which are scheduled for delivery in 2012.
While the company operates as a charter airline within Israel and to various European destinations, it has requested permission to start scheduled flights to North America from the Government. Its previous request, coinciding with local competitor Israir's successful bid for flights to New York, was turned down last year.
The deal, which includes an option for two additional 787s, comes as Chicago-based Boeing attempts to maintain its clean sheet over European competitor Airbus in the Israeli market.
Last month, El Al Israel Airlines cancelled an option to buy as many as 10 787s and said it may add Airbus SAS aircraft to its all-Boeing fleet. Israir is also reportedly in negotiations with Airbus to expand its fleet.
Boeing's dreamliner program has been a key factor in boosting the manufacturer's efforts to outsell Airbus for the first time in five years. The fuel-efficient 787, which replaces traditional aluminum wings and fuselage with lighter carbon-fiber composite, has an order backlog of more than 450 planes valued at over $60 billion, making it Boeing's most successful sales effort.
The first 787 flight is scheduled for next year and the aircraft is expected to enter into service in 2008.
Its addition, will dramatically upgrade Arkia's fleet of 12 which includes three Boeing 757s and regional jet and propeller-driven aircraft.
The airline has yet to make a decision on whether to use General Electric Co.'s GEnx engines or Rolls-Royce Group Plc's Trent 1000.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.