Saudi Arabian flag-carrier Saudia announced at the Paris Airshow that it is expanding its existing order of Airbus A320neo family of plans from the current number of 35 “to as many as 100, including 35 options,” according to reports.
The airline disclosed three years ago that it was taking 35 A320neo-family jets, including A321neos.
The “neo” at the end of the iconic “A320” name stands for “new engine option.” Launched on 1 December 2010, it made its first flight on 25 September 2014 and it was introduced by Lufthansa on 25 January 2016.
Now Airbus says it is expanding this earlier agreement with Saudia of 35 A320neos “to a total of 65 firm aircraft, of which 15 are the A321XLR.”
The A321XLR is Airbus’ newest plane, launched this week at the Paris Airshow, with an extended range and MTOW capacity, which measures the plane’s ability to carry weight. The new A321XLR would have a range of up to 4,700 nautical miles, enough to connect cities like New York and Rome, despite being a narrow body jet.
The agreement was announced in a ceremony attended by the Chairman of Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation, Dr. Ghassan Al-Shibl, and signed by Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation, and Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer.
Saudia has accelerated international growth at the parent full service brand and has been using its new LCC subsidiary Flyadeal to accelerate growth in the domestic market. Saudia began a transformation program three years ago to increase the company’s standing among global carriers.
INCREASED PASSENGER DEMAND DRIVING GROWTH
According to a press release issued by Saudia, passenger demand in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is “experiencing exponential growth both on domestic, regional, as well as international routes.”
The additional aircraft will be deployed to support the national flag carrier to boost capacity and to serve the additional requirements and growing demand for the airline’s services – both short and long haul. SAUDIA currently flies to more than 95 routes across four continents.
“Year-on-year growth has been in the double digits, both in domestic travel as well as the growing international transit traffic, as a result of the airline’s expanding route map and additional frequencies offered on existing routes. In addition to the narrow-body order, evaluations are currently underway for wide-body requirements, expected to be concluded within the next few months,” Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser said.
Saudia currently operates a fleet of more than 150 narrow and widebody aircraft, including 100 Airbus A320 family and A330s. The airline operates one of the most modern fleets in the world – at an average aircraft age of less than 5 years. This latest purchase is in line with the group’s SV2020 Transformation Program which includes the establishment and growth of a dual-brand strategy of operating airlines which cater to the different customer segments in the Kingdom, region and beyond.