MIAMI — Israel flag carrier El Al has started negotiations for the purchase and leasing of up to 15 Boeing 787 Dreamliner family aircraft, intended to replace its aging long-haul widebody aircraft.

“I am proud to announce today (Wednesday), the largest procurement program in the history of El Al” David Maimon, President and CEO, El Al said in a statement. “The Board of Directors has approved today (Wednesday) the negotiations with Boeing for replacing the widebody fleet through the acquisition and lease of 15 aircraft in the next five years.”

“We are honored that EL AL has selected the 787 for its fleet renewal plan,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner. “The Dreamliner will be an excellent addition to EL AL’s all-Boeing fleet and marks another chapter in a partnership between our two companies that spans over half a century.”

This is not the first time that El Al, a traditional Boeing customer, announces a Dreamliner deal. Back in 2006, the airline announced a Memorandum of Understanding for 10 787-8. However, negotiations did not prosper.

The airline said delivery of the new fuel-efficient 787-8 and 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft would take place in the first half of 2017 through 2020. The planes will replace a fleet of seven 747-400s and six 767-300ERs, which serve the North American and Asian destinations.

The additional aircraft would allow the airline to open long, thin routes such as Miami and Washington D.C. in the United States. “This move is expected to be a significant step to the optimization of our route network, service to passengers and flight experience.” El Al CEO Maimon said.

Comments