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Jazeera Air unit leases planes to Virgin America

October 10, 2010 4:07 by

A unit of Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways Group has signed a $155 million leasing contract to supply four Airbus A320 jets to U.S.-based carrier Virgin America, the companies said in a joint statement on Sunday.

The lease is the first to a U.S. customer by Sahaab Aircraft Leasing, a fully owned subsidiary of the group, and is part of an expansion drive by Virgin America.

Sahaab was acquired in February 2010 by the group, also parent of Jazeera Airways

At July’s Farnborough Airshow, Europe’s Airbus received a $3 billion-plus preliminary order from Virgin America for 40 Airbus A320 jets, plus options for 20 more.

“The airline, with 28 aircraft in service, is a rising star in North America,” said Jazeera Airways Group Chairman Marwan Boodai in the statement. “We… look forward to a long-term relationship with the airline.”

Sahaab’s leasing activities started in October 2008 with Jazeera Airways as its first customer.

Virgin America, which operates from San Francisco to destinations across the U.S. and Canada, was launched in August 2007 as a U.S.-owned, controlled and operated airline. British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Group is a minority investor.

“We’re pleased to partner with Sahaab as we continue to grow aggressively and expand our network in North America,” said Holly Nelson, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Virgin America in the statement.

“With strong demand, a healthy projected revenue environment and expansion to several new cities ahead – this partnership will help fuel our network and financial growth,” he added.

The airline added four new destinations this year and said it expected its fleet to grow by two-thirds by the end of 2011 and triple in size by 2016.

(Reporting by Tamara Walid; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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