Reports suggest that Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) is preparing funding for orders from both Airbus And Boeing, for around 70 aircraft! But are they actually new?
The pandemic has not been good for aircraft orders. Both major aircraft manufacturers would welcome any order in these times. And at the same time, they are fighting for the orders they already have. And try to turn any would-be cancellations, into deferrals. We have seen that Airbus recently ended long-standing negotiations with its suppliers, because they could not sustain a low rate of production in the long term. So, news of an order from Saudia, of such a size, would be vital, for them or Boeing.
The report suggests that Saudia is raising 11.5 billion riyals ($3.07 billion) to help finance a new order. The airline will add more A321neo aircraft to its existing orders. They will also add Boeing 777s and 787s. The news comes from a banker, speaking to local news. Saudia is raising these funds in part through banks.
Orders Supporting Saudia’s Still-young Current Fleet?
At the moment, Saudia has a fleet of 146 aircraft, not including its cargo fleet. They already have 18 787-9 and 787-10 aircraft, with five more orders for the latter. The rest of Saudia’s existing orders consist of aircraft from the A320neo family. These are 30 A320neos, 5 A321neos, 15 A321LRs and another 15 A321XLRs. So along with the Dreamliners, existing orders add up to 70. They have options for 35 more Airbus aircraft.
Like most, the airline has suffered in the pandemic. The owner of the airline is the Saudi government. And they have had to inject at least $7 billion of support to the airline. This support started in 2019, before the pandemic, as the airline was already struggling. Saudia’s existing orders for 65 narrowbodies will replace 62 A320/A321ceos.
However it is not clear if this leak has to do with Saudia’s existing order, or an additional one. More single-aisle jets would add capacity in the airline’s short/medium haul fleet. In the long-haul side, Saudia have 32 A330-300 aircraft. But these aircraft are not old! The average age of Saudia’s A330s is just over 6 years.
The news also mentions orders for new Boeing 777s for Saudia. Obviously we don’t know if this is for 777s (cargo?), or the 777X. They don’t yet have any orders for the latter. However they do have 39 777-300ERs, with an average age of under 6 years. Going back to single-aisles, their A320-200s are the same age. The A321-200s are a bit older, at just over 9 years.
Time will tell. Either this is a new order for Saudia, or it is their way of continuing to fund an order, in turbulent times.