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Low-cost airlines continue to lay plans for another wave of expansion, despite the broader industry slump, with

America West Airlines


signing an agreement for a total of 22 Airbus aircraft.

Under the terms of the deal, America West will buy 17 aircraft from Airbus and lease another five from various companies. The carrier will purchase a mix of A-320s and A-319s and will take delivery of the leased aircraft early next year, with the 17 planes coming online in late 2005 and early 2006. The move is part of the company's plan to boost profits between 8% and 10% in 2005 and 2006.

"We've reached an agreement with Airbus that allows us more flexibility as we plan for future growth," said Doug Parker, chairman and CEO. "The challenging industry environment continues to present opportunities for the low-cost sector, and we believe America West has significant potential to capitalize on these opportunities."

In reaction to the news, America West's shares rose 15 cents, or 1.5%, to $10.24.

America West, which is profitable and is expected to remain in the black, is not the only carrier buying airplanes at a time when

Delta Air Lines

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