BA to buy $7.8 bn in new planes

British Airways looks set to push ahead with a £4 billion ($7.8 billion) fleet replacement program, after asserting that it had reached a deal with union representatives to help to clear a GBP2.1 billion pensions deficit, The Times reports on its Web site on Tuesday. However, the airline’s claim that it had “concluded discussions” on the pensions issue was challenged by unions on Monday, the London-based newspaper writes..

British Air plans to place its first order for new aircraft in the next few months after saying that it had agreed a deal to make increased payments into the fund in exchange for workers delaying retirement, The Times says. Keith Williams, the chief financial officer, said that the airline would, as a result of the pensions deal, be in a position to buy three long-haul aircraft a year, according to The Times.

The airline wants to replace more than 30 long-haul aircraft as part of plans to lower the age of its fleet. Buying a new Boeing aircraft, similar to the 747 and 767 models that the company plans to replace, could cost up to GBP170 million at list prices, according to The Times.

British Airways won World’s Leading Airline at this year’s World Travel Awards.