August 24, 2009 / 1:47 PM / in 8 years

WestJet slows expansion plans as economy stays cool

* WestJet slows expansion plans

* Orders 14 Boeing 737 for 2105 and 2016

* Expects 2010 capacity rise of 5 to 10 pct

CALGARY, Alberta, Aug 24 (Reuters) - WestJet Airlines Ltd (WJA.TO) said on Monday it has rejigged plans to boost its fleet, slowing a planned expansion as the economy remains cool, but ordering 14 additional Boeing (BA.N) 737 aircraft for delivery in the middle of the next decade.

WestJet, Canada’s No. 2 airline, has scaled back plans to boost its fleet of 737s to 121 in four years from 86 at the end of this year. Instead, it plans to have between 108 and 111 planes in 2013 and expects to operate between between 112 and 135 planes by 2016 depending on lease renewals.

The carrier is lowering growth plans and defering some deliveries, looking in part to ease the financial burden of payments for the planes.

“Shifting the new aircraft delivery dates allows us to spread our growth out more evenly between 2010 and 2016,” Sean Durfy, WestJet’s chief executive, said in a statement. “It also helps to even out our pre-delivery payment schedule for aircraft deposits and gives us the time and flexibility to make decisions around our financing options for these aircraft.”

WestJet new plans call for the addition of five new aircraft next year, boosting capacity by 5 to 10 percent.

The 14 additional planes ordered from Boeing are expected to be delivered in 2015 and 2016, the airline said. (Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by Frank McGurty)

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