Saudi Arabia’s Saudia Group adds 105 Airbus jets to order backlog to support tourism ambitions

May 21, 2024 by No Comments

The national airline of Saudi Arabia has ordered over 100 new Airbus jets, reflecting the kingdom’s ambitious drive to attract more tourists.

Saudia Group, representing Saudia airline and its budget carrier Flyadeal, announced on Monday an order for 105 aircraft from the A320neo family of jets manufactured by the French aerospace company, including 12 A320neos and 93 A321neos. This brings Saudia Group’s backlog of Airbus aircraft orders to 144 of the A320neo family of planes.

Saudia stated that it is increasing its flights and seat capacity across its existing 100-plus destinations to meet the country’s goal of attracting more than 150 million tourists by 2030.

In February, Airbus reported strong results for its commercial aircraft business in its latest annual earnings report. The company set a target of 800 commercial aircraft deliveries, 67 more than in 2023.

Airbus’s success contrasts with the struggles of Boeing, which seemed to be finally recovering from two crashes of Max jets in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people in Indonesia and Ethiopia. However, on January 5, a door plug blew out of an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9, and the company has faced difficulties ever since.

Airbus has benefited from its decision to launch the A320neo family of jets with 180 to 230 seats. “Neo” stands for new engine option, indicating highly fuel-efficient engines that save airlines significant costs. Boeing rushed to match Airbus with the Max, a 737 equipped with new, more efficient engines, but encountered numerous technical issues.

Despite Boeing’s difficulties, Airbus is unlikely to extend its advantage in the Airbus-Boeing duopoly much further, as the company is currently producing aircraft at its maximum capacity and has a backlog of over 8,600 orders to fill.