(In last sentence, corrects SWISS flies 777 to SWISS has 777 on
* Split deal follows competition for around 50 long-haul
* Lufthansa says in intensive negotiations, but no decision
PARIS/FRANKFURT, Sept 13 Lufthansa is
close to placing an order, split between Airbus and
Boeing, for dozens of long-haul jets, two people familiar
with the matter said on Friday.
The keenly awaited order, due to be announced next week,
follows a contest between the planemakers for roughly 50
aircraft to renew the German flag carrier's long-distance fleet.
It is expected to include the first public commitment to buy
a revamped 400-seat version of Boeing's 777 mini-jumbo,
code-named 777-9X, which the planemaker aims to launch this
The 406-seat Boeing 777-9X, equipped with new engines and
wings, is expected to start flying passengers around the end of
Lufthansa is also expected to order an estimated 20 to 25 of
the smaller Airbus A350-900 aircraft. The 314-seat model is due
to enter service in the second half of next year.
A Lufthansa spokesman confirmed the airline was holding
"We are in intensive negotiations with manufacturers about
ordering long-haul jets," the spokesman said.
"The negotiations are ongoing and no decision has been made.
Once a decision has been made, the management will pass the
matter to the supervisory board for a decision; that has not yet
Europe's Airbus, a division of EADS, and U.S. rival
Boeing Co both declined comment.
Reuters reported last month that Lufthansa's supervisory
board would meet on Sept. 18 to review a potential order worth
more than $10 billion.
Lufthansa said it does not comment on the timing of board
In March, Lufthansa approved purchases of 108 smaller
aircraft, dominated by a 100-plane order for medium-haul planes
awarded to Airbus.
A senior executive told Reuters the following month it would
consider buying several dozen wide-body jets, but would not
necessarily cover all its requirements in a single order.
The airline has also expressed interest in the 787
Dreamliner despite the aircraft's recent technical problems.
The Lufthansa group, which includes SWISS and Austrian
Airlines, has a reputation for exhaustive technical analysis and
is seen as a key battleground as Airbus and Boeing vie for
advantage in one of the most lucrative parts of the market.
Europe's largest airline group aims to update a varied fleet
including some ageing Airbus A340 and Boeing 767 planes.
The core Lufthansa brand has five 777 freighters on order,
but does not currently fly 777 passenger jets. Austrian already
flies 777 passenger planes and SWISS has six on order.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Maria Sheahan, Alwyn Scott; Editing
by Ken Wills)