New Saudi airline Riyadh Air remains locked in negotiations with both Airbus and Boeing over a potential mega order for single-aisle jets, the carrier’s CEO Tony Douglas has confirmed on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) annual conference in Istanbul.
It was reported last week that Boeing was seeking to close a deal with Riyadh Air for as many as 150 of its 737MAX single-aisle planes, although Douglas says a deal with either Boeing or its rival Airbus won’t be announced until the Paris Air Show later this month at the earliest.
“We’re in the middle of a narrow-body campaign at the moment, and all of our energy is focused on concluding that so we can make an announcement,” Douglas noted. “It won’t be any earlier than the Paris Air Show, and it won’t be any later than the Dubai Airshow,” he continued.
The Dubai Airshow is set to take place between November 13 and November 17.
Factors working in Boeing’s favour include the fact that Airbus might not have any delivery slots available for its massively popular A320neo-series aircraft until 2029.
Riyadh Air simply doesn’t have that kind of time to spare and is hoping to launch in 2025 with the delivery of its first widebody aircraft.
There could, though, still be room for a separate Airbus order, with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund reportedly shopping for a total of 300 single-aisle jets for the new airline. Riyadh Air is said to be particularly interested in the A321neo, which outperforms Boeing’s nearest equivalent.
Talks are also still ongoing with Airbus for a potential widebody jet order after Boeing also secured the first win with an order for 39 of its 787-9 Dreamliner and options for 33 more.
On Sunday, Riyadh Air revealed the first of two aircraft delivery designs on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which Boeing had painted to show off the branding. The bold blue hues are meant to evoke Saudi nature, with purple representing lavender, the dark blue emulating the dark desert night sky and lighter blue representing the sky during the day.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.