The purchase helps Boeing's competition with Europe's Airbus.
BEIJING (AP) -- Six Chinese airlines have signed a deal to buy 60 of Boeing Co.'s new 7E7 jetliners for a combined total of about $7.3 billion, one of the carriers announced Friday.
It is the largest firm order to date for Boeing's new fuel-efficient jet and gives Chicago-based Boeing a boost in its competition with European rival Airbus SAS for business in China.
The first of the jetliners will be delivered in 2008, Xiamen Airlines Co. said in a statement.
The other carriers are Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines Co., Shanghai Airlines Co. and Hainan Airlines Co., the statement said.
Xiamen Airlines said it plans to introduce a 7E7 aircraft to its service each year from 2008 to 2010.
On Thursday, Boeing spokeswoman Amanda Landers said Boeing had "reached a substantial agreement" on the sale but declined to provide more detail.
The 7E7 Dreamliner, which is expected to go into service in 2008, competes with the A350 being developed by Europe's Airbus SAS. The Toulouse, France-based company expects to put its plane into service by 2010.
At the end of last year, Boeing had firm orders for 56 of the planes and tentative agreements for an additional 70 planes.
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