LONDON - TUI Travel, Europe's biggest tour operator, is to buy 60 of Boeing's fuel-efficient 737 MAX passenger planes for a "significant discount" to the combined catalogue price of $6.09 billion it announced on Friday.
The British group also has the option and right to buy up to 90 more planes, TUI Travel added in a statement.
"TUI Travel...is pleased to announce, subject to shareholder approval, a commitment to purchase 60 narrow-body Boeing 737 MAX aircraft," the company said in the statement.
It added that the purchase was "part of its fleet renewal strategy."
TUI Travel chief executive Peter Long said the aircraft purchase would allow the group to strengthen further.
"I can confidently say that being able to offer our customers the most advanced, comfortable aircraft, whether they are travelling with us to short or long-haul destinations, while reducing our environmental impact, will only strengthen our position," he said in the statement.
The company recently announced that net losses fell in the first half of the group's financial year, boosted by growing demand in Britain and the Nordic region.
But a study published on Thursday revealed that fewer Europeans are planning to go away for a summer holiday as economic austerity bites - with levels of foreign vacation travel at their lowest for eight years.
No more than 54% of Europeans are planning such a trip, according to the Ipsos-Europ Assistance "holiday barometer."
By contrast, the global airline industry body said Thursday that world air-passenger traffic grew 3.2% in April, compared to the level a year ago, driven by travel in emerging markets.
"We see strong growth among African, Asia-Pacific, Middle Eastern and Latin American airlines," International Air Transport Association chief Tony Tyler told journalists in Cape Town.
Also on Thursday, Singapore Airlines (SIA) said it would buy 30 Airbus and 30 Boeing aircraft in an order worth more than $17 billion as it seeks to maintain market leadership using the next-generation fuel-efficient planes.
SIA is battling strong competition in the premium segment from Middle Eastern carriers and on the economy side from budget airlines, which have grown in number in the region
TUI Travel was created in late 2007 from the merger of British travel group First Choice and the tourism activities of Germany's TUI.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2013