Boeing reached a deal with Japan Airlines to equip current and future 777s with Class 3 EFBs following a validation trial that began last year. Two 777s have been operating with the EFBs since June 2007 and JAL expects to take delivery of three EFB-equipped -300ERs this year. Retrofit kit installation will begin in April 2009 and completion is slated for late 2011.

Boeing also reached agreement with Caribbean Airlines to manage spare parts and components inventory under its Component Services Program. Contract guarantees replacements for failed parts within 24 hr. and is expected to reduce inventory, repair and administrative costs.

The aircraft maker also finalized a deal to acquire Vought Aircraft Industries' interest in Global Aeronautica, a 787 fuselage subassembly facility in South Carolina. Contract makes GA a 50/50 joint venture between Boeing and Alenia North America. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Amadeus reached 10-year agreements with 12 AACO-affiliated airlines based in the Middle East and North Africa for distribution activities in home markets. "Amadeus solutions will equip our member airlines with excellent tools to bring customer-oriented distribution technology to the travel agents, who continue to be very important and long-term partners in the travel value chain," observed AACO Secretary General Abdul Wahab Teffaha. "Six member airlines, who have for the past seven years had a successful partnership with Amadeus, will now be joined by six additional member airlines once their current distribution partnership expires at the end of 2008." Accounting for 66% of the reservations made by travel agencies in the MENA region, the 12 airlines are Air Algerie, Afriqiyah Airways, EgyptAir, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Libyan Airlines, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Sudan Airways, Syrian Arab Airlines, Tunisair and Yemen Airways. Contracts take effect Jan. 1.

Travelport GDS reached long-term agreements with Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines to waive all GDS surcharges for Travelport agencies participating in those carriers' forthcoming preferred fares programs in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Lichtenstein. "We are delighted to have signed such ground-breaking agreements with Lufthansa and Swiss and to be able to guarantee surcharge-free booking for all of our travel agency customers for over three years," said Bryan Conway, Travelport's MD-Europe, Middle East, Africa and Brazil. Scheduled to take effect July 1, the contracts allow Galileo- and Worldspan-connected users full-content access to both airlines to the end of 2011. Conway pointed out that the agreements will "certainly sharpen our competitive edge in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Lichtenstein and further illustrate our ability to work with our airline partners to reach a situation that is mutually beneficial for both of us as well as our agency customers who will no longer have to pay the airlines' proposed surcharge."

In separate news, Travelport said it will invest millions of dollars in the Middle East to refine its distributor relationships in select markets and establish a support network for travel agents in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The company recently opened an office in Dubai.

Air One placed a firm order for 12 A350-800s plus 12 options and 12 A330-200s with eight options. The deal is worth $4.8 billion at list prices, but has the potential to reach $8.6 billion if all options are exercised. Airbus said the aircraft will be used to "develop a comprehensive long-haul route network." The Rome Fiumicino-based carrier also has 65 A320s on order, along with 25 options that it expects to firm. The newly ordered A330s will feature a two-class cabin that seats 253 and the A350s will offer two classes with up to 287 seats. The order offers "a view to achieving major developments in the intercontinental market over the next few years," President Carlo Toto said.