Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 September 2019

Saudi Arabia's flyadeal scraps Boeing 737 Max plans for an all-Airbus fleet

Saudi Arabian Airlines, parent company of budget carrier, to allocate 30 A320 Neos from its Paris Airshow order to flyadeal

Saudi Arabian low-cost airline Flyadeal reversed a commitment for up to 50 Boeing 737 Max jets. opting instead for an all-Airbus A320 fleet. AFP
Saudi Arabian low-cost airline Flyadeal reversed a commitment for up to 50 Boeing 737 Max jets. opting instead for an all-Airbus A320 fleet. AFP

Saudi Arabian budget airline flyadeal scrapped its commitment to buy 50 Boeing 737 Max jets in favour of an all-Airbus fleet, dealing a blow to the US plane maker struggling to return its best-selling jet to service after two fatal crashes.

Parent company Saudi Arabian Airlines will allocate up to 50 Airbus A320 Neo jets from its Paris Airshow order in June to flyadeal, the low-cost unit said on Sunday. Flyadeal in December made a provisional order, worth $5.9 billion (Dh21.6bn) at list prices, for 30 Boeing 737 Max jets and options for 20 more.

"We understand that flyadeal will not finalise its commitment to the 737 Max at this time given the airline’s schedule requirements," a Boeing spokeswoman said. "We wish the flyadeal team well and hope we can support their fleet and operational needs in the future."

Flyadeal's decision to to opt for Boeing’s European rival is another setback for Boeing as it tries to return the 737 Max to the skies after crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia within five months killed 346 people. The disasters triggered a global grounding of the jet in March with no clear timeline for when the industry work-horse will resume service. Aviation regulators must first approve changes to the aircraft's software and a new pilot training programme before it can fly again.

Flyadeal will take 30 Airbus A320 Neo aircraft, with options for another 20 of the A320 Neo family jets, it said. Deliveries will begin from 2021.

"This order will result in flyadeal operating an all-Airbus A320 fleet in the future," the airline said.

The Saudi carrier's provisional Boeing 737 Max order hinged on the US plane maker's ability to fix the jet in time to meet the airline’s growth targets, flyadeal's chief executive Con Korfiatis told The National in April.

Flyadeal on Sunday said its expanded fleet will accommodate growing passenger demand across domestic, regional and international routes.

The carrier, established in September 2017, currently operates 11 Airbus A320 narrow-body aircraft.

Flydubai meanwhile, the second-largest customer of the Boeing 737 Max, in April also said it is in talks with Airbus for an order of the competing A320 Neo model in the absence of a time frame for the return of the Max to service.

Updated: July 7, 2019 05:57 PM

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