Saudi Arabian low-cost airline Flyadeal wanted to switch from Airbus A320 to Boeing 737 Max. Now the parent company Saudia could have changed its mind again.
At the end of last year, Flyadeal’s management was still sure on which aircraft it would like to expand in the future. In December, the young low-cost airline from Saudi Arabia placed a firm order for 30 Boeing 737 Max 8s with Boeing and also secured options for a further 20 aircraft. In return, the previous Airbus A320-200s were to go to the parent airline Saudia.
Shortly after the two crashes of the Boeing 737 Max in March, plans to turn Saudia’s low-cost offshoot into a pure 737-Max operator began to falter. Now there is growing evidence that Flyadeal is finally cancelling its order from Boeing and will in future be placing its bets on the Airbus A320 Neo. Saudia, for example, increased an existing A320 Neo order at the Paris Air Show.
Saudia increases existing Airbus order
In total, the order for 35 A320 Neo series aircraft on firm order was raised to 65. Half of the 30 newly ordered aircraft will be A321 Neo XLRs. In addition, Saudia has secured options for a further 35 aircraft, which could result in a total of 100 new Airbus aircraft.
Some of these new aircraft will now also be destined for the subsidiary Flyadeal. As the Airfinance Journal portal reports with reference to internal sources, Flyadeal planned to cancel its order with Boeing in the run-up to the air show and instead order from the European aircraft manufacturer. This is said to have happened under the cover of Saudia. Officials at Boeing or Flyadeal have yet to report any cancellations of Boeing 737-Max orders.
Boeing must continue to fear
For Boeing it is yet another order that it would lose in the course of the crisis of the 737-Max, which is still grounded worldwide. Garuda has already cancelled its order. Other airlines such as Lion Air, Kenya Airways, Vietjet Airlines, Azerbaijan Airlines, Flydubai and Icelandair are also playing with the idea of doing the same and maybe even be switching to Airbus. Meanwhile, other operators of the 737 Max are increasingly preparing to claim damages from Boeing for the loss.
At least there was a ray of hope for Boeing – a rather bright one even. The airline group IAG signed a letter of intent at Le Bourget to purchase 200 of the problem aircraft. The group is thinking out loud about completely converting Vueling’s Airbus fleet to the Boeing 737 Max.