By David Wren
Cairo-based EgyptAir will buy six of Boeing Co.'s 787-9 Dreamliners to help overhaul its aging fleet as part of a plan that also includes purchases from Airbus, Boeing's France-based rival.
The airline's board of directors recently approved the deal, according to Daily News Egypt, and an official announcement could come later this week.
In addition to the wide-body Dreamliners — which are assembled in North Charleston and Everett, Wash. — EgyptAir plans to buy an unspecified number of Airbus A320neo single-aisle planes.
Safwat Musallam, chairman of EgyptAir Holding Co., told the newspaper that the purchases are part of a fleet overhaul in which about 25 planes will be replaced. The Dreamliners would be the first for EgyptAir, although the airline currently has several Boeing 737s and 777s in its fleet.
"The order by EgyptAir continues a string of wins for the 787 program of late, after getting the nod from Malaysia Air and Turkish Airlines," Dreamliner analyst Uresh Sheth said on his All Things 787 website.
Malaysia Airlines said last month it will buy eight 787-9s while Turkish Airlines announced an order for 40 of the planes.
The 85-year-old EgyptAir has a fleet of more than 50 aircraft, most of them manufactured by Boeing. The airline serves 81 global destinations, mostly in Egypt, Europe and the Middle East.
Once the Egypt Air deal is finalized, it will bring Boeing's total to 132 net orders for the Dreamliner this year, according to data compiled by Sheth. Boeing had 80 net orders last year for the wide-body plane that's made of lightweight composite materials.
Boeing, which chose North Charleston for its second 787 campus in 2009, is one of the Lowcountry's largest employers, with about 7,000 workers and contractors.
The North Charleston campus assembles all three Dreamliner variants including the 787-10, the largest plane in the program. The 787-9 is a mid-sized Dreamliner that can seat up to 290 passengers and fly up to 7,635 nautical miles.