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787 and A330 Neo: Saudi Airlines wants to order long-haul aircraft for short flights

787 and A330 Neo: Saudi Airlines wants to order long-haul aircraft for short flights

Saudi Arabia ordered 105 medium-range aircraft from Airbus. However, the airline has a much higher demand. Due to delivery bottlenecks, Saudi Airlines now wants to order larger aircraft.

Airbus's order book is more than full. At the end of 2023, the accumulated order for passenger and cargo aircraft reached about 8,600 aircraft. The Airbus A320 Neo family is in special demand. Medium-term production is fully booked until the end of the decade. Imperfection is the mother of invention.

At the end of May, Saudi Arabia placed a large order for 105 narrow-body aircraft from Airbus. There are 12 A320 Neo aircraft and 93 A321 Neo aircraft. The aircraft are allocated to both Saudi Airlines and its low-cost subsidiary Flyadeal. The problem: Saudi Arabia seems to need more planes.

95 planes missing

The group's spokesman, Abdullah Al-Shahrani, told Reuters that the Saudi group is currently in talks with Airbus and Boeing to request wide-body aircraft to increase its capacity. According to Al-Shahrani, the group needs 180 new aircraft for the planned expansion. So there are approximately 95 single-aisle aircraft missing.

Since they are not available in the foreseeable future, Saudia is looking at the Boeing 787 or Airbus A330neo as alternatives. This will allow Saudi Arabia to deploy long-range aircraft on short- and medium-range routes, Al-Shahrani said in an interview on Thursday on the sidelines of the CAPA Indian Aviation Conference in New Delhi.

COMAC is not an option yet

The head of communications said that Saudi Arabia would like to visit the production of the Chinese company COMAC in China in the fall. The Saudis want to test the planes because they could be an alternative to Airbus and Boeing in the future. But right now, “it's not the right time” to apply, Al-Shahrani says.

Saudi Arabia is preparing for the post-oil era. Tourism and aviation are at the forefront. Saudi Arabia wants to receive about 330 million passengers annually by 2030, three times the current number. They want to be directly connected to 250 destinations around the world, and the country needs planes for this.