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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 January 2019

Flyadeal and Green Africa deals give Boeing edge over Airbus 

Boeing racked up 690 net aircraft orders compared to 380 for Airbus between January and November this year

Flyadeal will switch from an all-Airbus A320 fleet after signing a deal to buy 30 Boeing 737 Max narrowbody jets. AP
Flyadeal will switch from an all-Airbus A320 fleet after signing a deal to buy 30 Boeing 737 Max narrowbody jets. AP

Saudi Arabian budget airline flyadeal and Nigeria's Green Africa Airways' commitments to buy Boeing 737 Max jets have given the US manufacturer an edge over its French rival Airbus in the 2018 race for orders.

Boeing secured 690 plane orders this year through to the end of November, the latest full-month report available, overtaking Airbus's 380. The Chicago-based plane maker beat its European rival after signing deals worth billions of dollars with the Saudi and African carriers on December 21.

Flyadeal will switch from an all-Airbus A320 fleet after agreeing to buy 30 Boeing 737 Max narrowbodies. The low-cost arm of Saudi Arabian Airlines, or Saudia as it is known, said on Friday it also has options for 20 more of the jet that competes with Airbus's A320Neos. The 50-plane deal is valued at up to $5.9 billion (Dh21.66bn) at list price, although discounts for customers are often made.

The deal ended months of deliberation by flyadeal's board to pick a supplier for its 50-jet requirement that Airbus and Boeing had been competing for since the airline issued a request for proposals in 2017.

Jeddah-based flyadeal, which operates domestic routes, opted for the 737 Max 8 which can carry 189 passengers in a one-class configuration.

"The addition to the fleet aligns well with flyadeal’s target to grow its presence in the domestic market and cover new markets outside of Saudi Arabia," Saleh Al Jasser, director general of Saudia, said.

The airline began operations last year and flies eight domestic routes including Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Qassim, Tabuk, Gizan, Madinah and Abha.

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Boeing also signed a commitment with Lagos-based Green Africa Airways for a firm order of 50 737 Max jets with options for 50 more in a deal that is worth $11.7bn at list prices for the 100 aircraft, the manufacturer said on Friday.

The deal is the largest narrowbody plane agreement from Africa, according to Boeing.

Airlines in Africa need 1,190 new airplanes as the continent improves both intra-continental and intercontinental flights over the next couple of decades, Boeing said, citing its 20-year Commercial Market Outlook.

Both the flyadeal and Green Africa deals will reflect in Boeing's orders and deliveries website once they are finalised.

Boeing and Airbus have been locked in a fierce competition for sales of their upgraded engine narrow-body jets within the 737 Max and A320Neo family.

The 737 Max is the fastest-selling plane in the Boeing portfolio, accumulating more than 4,800 orders from over 100 customers worldwide.

Airbus has a track record of pulling off last-minute deals in some year-end surprises.

Updated: December 24, 2018 03:23 PM

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