The airline Easyjet announced Tuesday that it will exercise a purchase option with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus to supply 56 A320neo aircraft, which at 2018 list price is worth some $6.5 billion.

However, the British carrier explains that the price paid is “much lower” thanks to discounts obtained from Airbus under a 2013 contract.

The “conditional” deal announced Tuesday also calls for the conversion of 18 A320neo aircraft to A321neo, according to the release.

The 56 A320neo aircraft are expected to be delivered between 2026 and 2029, and the 18 A321neo between 2024 and 2027.

“The proposed purchase strengthens Easyjet’s order book with Airbus until 2028 and continues the rejuvenation of the fleet” of the low-cost airline, with the gradual withdrawal of older A320s or A319s, the statement said.

Easyjet emphasizes that these new aircraft consume 15 to 25% less fuel, and can carry more passengers, which offers both economic and environmental benefits, according to the statement.

Easyjet reported a month ago a reduced net loss in the first half of its fiscal year thanks to the recovery of air traffic post-confinements, and was optimistic for the summer.

The airline industry was one of the hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic that paralyzed global traffic for months.

Since the lifting of health restrictions in many countries, including the UK, earlier this year, carriers are now facing difficulties in meeting the surging demand, mainly due to severe labor shortages.

The company has had to reduce its flight capacity forecasts for the summer season due to staff shortages, which will have a financial impact, it warned on Monday, without giving a figure.

On the London Stock Exchange, Easyjet shares were down 0.29 percent at 442.40 pence around 0900 GMT.

“The chaotic period in British airports may have led Easyjet to announce flights this summer but has not prevented” to think “in the long term”, commented Russ Mould, analyst at AJ Bell.

He notes, however, that these purchases must be “approved by shareholders who may be unhappy with the share’s weak performance this year”.