WASHINGTON - Pakistan International Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, has signed a firm order for five Boeing 777-300ER (extended range) airplanes, to meet increased demand for air travel as well as to introduce new routes.

Valued at nearly $1.5 billion at list prices, the order also includes purchase rights to PIA for five additional 777-300ERs, the US manufacturer said in a statement.

“With passenger traffic in our region accelerating, the new 777-300ER airplanes will continue to deliver the highest standards of technology and passenger comfort to our customers,” said Capt Nadeem Yousufzai, PIA Managing Director. “The spacious 777-300ER has been an integral part of our long-range fleet renewal programme and its excellent operating economics, long range capability and reliability will allow us to expand into new long-haul markets.”

In 2002, PIA became the world’s first airline to purchase all three passenger models of the 777 Family and in that year was also the launch customer for the 777-200LR (longer range) airplane.

“We are proud that Pakistan International Airlines is a special Boeing customer that continues to invest and trust in the industry-leading capabilities of the 777 family of airplanes,” said Marty Bentrott, vice president of Sales for the Middle East, Russia and Central Asia, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Boeing values the excellent partnership that was established over 10 years ago and one which we hope to continue well into the future as the airline progresses with its expansion plans.”

The 777-300ER brings new twin-engine efficiency to the airline’s long-haul fleet, the statement said.

Staff Reporter from Lahore adds: PIA is going to purchase five new 777-300ER (extended range) airplanes and the first plane in this regard will be delivered in March, 2015 while the last one in 2020, said spokesman of the airlines Syed Sultan on Tuesday.

He maintained the said planes would be purchased against 13.5 per cent less price than planes purchased last time. He said PIA had already received ownership right of six planes from Boeing and now PIA could replace the said planes also.

Boeing and Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Monday announced a firm order for five valued at nearly $1.5 billion at list prices. However spokesman said that it was a shelf price which was negotiable.

“With passenger traffic in our region accelerating, the new 777-300ER airplanes will continue to deliver the highest standards of technology and passenger comfort,” said PIA MD Yousufzai. With this order, PIA’s 777 fleet will grow to 14, the spokesman concluded.