Iraq signs $6 bln Boeing, Bombardier plane deal

Mon Mar 31, 2008 1:21pm EDT
 
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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq signed a $5.9 billion contract with U.S. firm Boeing (BA.N: Quote) and Canada's Bombardier (BBDb.TO: Quote) to purchase at least 50 airplanes, a government spokesman said on Monday.

The purchase, previously announced in February, is the country's first major aircraft order since at least the 1980s.

Iraq is working to rebuild its fleet after most of it was destroyed during the 2003 U.S.-led war. It resumed international flights in 2004.

Under the contract, Iraq agreed to buy 40 Boeing 737 and 787 airplanes for its national carrier, with the option to purchase 15 more, the government said. It also signed a $400 million contract with Bombardier to buy 10 jets.

Iraq's national carrier Iraqi Airways now flies only to neighboring countries, but aviation officials say it hopes to expand its network from the Middle East into Europe and China.

Iraq will start to receive the new planes this year with final delivery expected by the end of 2019, the government said.

"The deals will strengthen the Iraqi civil aviation capacity and enable it to respond to the increasing demand for air transportation to and from Iraq," said Ali Al-Dabbagh, spokesman for the Iraqi government, in a statement.

(Reporting by Randy Fabi, editing by Peter Graff and Mary Gabriel)