Go set to quadruple fleet with £2bn order for jets

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The budget airline Go last night unveiled plans to expand its fleet to 80 aircraft in a move which holds out the prospect of a $3bn (£2.1bn) order for either Boeing or Airbus.

Go also said that it planned to grow by 30 per cent a year over the next six years which would increase passenger numbers from 4 million in the financial year just ending to 19 million by 2008.

The ambitious expansion plans would see the Go fleet quadruple in size from its present level and a new airport base opened each year.

It now operates from three airports after the launch yesterday of services from East Midlands. Its two other bases are London Stansted and Bristol.

The current fleet consists of 20 leased Boeing 737s but a further seven aircraft are due to enter service this year.

Go said it intended to take a decision on the jet purchase in the next few months and would weigh up offers from Boeing and Airbus against the cheaper alternative of buying second-hand aircraft.

It is committed to operating a single type of aircraft to keep costs down. The airline, which began operations in 1998 and last year bought itself out of British Airways for £100m, currently flies to 21 destinations. A spokeswoman could not say how many more destinations Go aimed to serve by 2008.

The expansion plan mirrors that of the rival low-cost carrier Ryanair which last month announced a $9bn order for up to 150 new Boeing jets.

Ryanair aims to double the number of destinations served over the next decade to at least 100 and grow passenger numbers from 10 million a year at present to 40 million.