Saudi Arabian airline Flyadeal has today announced a deal worth as much as $5.9 billion USD with American aerospace giant Boeing for up to 50 of its next-generation 737MAX narrowbody aircraft. The low-cost airline, which is a subsidiary of State-owned Saudia Airlines, has only been operating for little more than a year and has, until now, operated an all Airbus fleet of A320 aircraft.
The deal will prove a major blow to the Toulouse-based Airbus after the European aircraft manufacturer courted the Saudi Arabian upstart airline. Flyadeal took delivery of its ninth A320 a couple of weeks ago and Airbus had been in talks with the airline since 2016 to grow its fleet as it expands its presence in Saudia Arabia.
Traditionally, budget carriers have tended to operate a single aircraft type such as either the Airbus A320 family or Boeing 737 family in order to keep costs as low as possible. Other low-cost airlines have experienced quite a few problems from taking on rogue aircraft that have joined their fleet from a merger or acquisition, so it will be really interesting what Flyadeal decides to do with its A320 aircraft.
Flyadeal has placed a firm order for 30 Boeing 737Max aircraft and has options for 20 more. The list value for 50 aircraft stands at $5.9 billion although its likely that Flydeal won a significant discount from Boeing – especially when you consider the fact that the airline will have to overcome some significant hurdles from abandoning Airbus.
The 737MAX is Boeing’s next-generation version of the worlds most popular single-aisle aircraft. Boeing claims its MAX family aircraft are more fuel efficient, more environmentally friendly and have a greater range than traditional 737 aircraft. Airbus also offers an A320NEO option which is designed to provide an enhanced passenger experience with lower operating costs. The NEO stands for New Engine Option but Flyadeal decided not to take options on this variant of the aircraft.
Flyadeal’s current Airbus aircraft seat 186 passengers in an all-economy layout. The Jeddah-based airline is currently recruiting both male and female cabin crew.