Boeing received preliminary orders from two Saudi Arabian airlines for a combined 121 Dreamliners on March 14, making it a Super Tuesday for the US airframer. Reports of the imminent orders emerged in the past few days, although a widebody order has been expected since 2021. Boeing gets double orders from Saudi airlines.

The first order is for the country’s start-up airline Riyadh Air, which was officially announced last Sunday by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF). The state fund now has placed an order for 39 Boeing 787-9s plus 33 options. The contract needs finalizing and no details about deliveries have been shared.

Riyadh Air’s CEO Tony Douglas says in a media statement that the 787s will form the backbone of the new carrier: “By positioning the airline as both a global connector and a vehicle to drive tourist and business travel to Saudi Arabia, our new 787-9 airplanes will serve as a foundation for our worldwide operations, as we build the wider network and connect our guests to Saudi Arabia and many destinations around the world,” Douglas said. 

The new airline will be instrumental in realizing Saudi Arabia’s ambition of 100 million visitors and 330 million passengers in 2030. But it won’t be able to do this on its own, so there is still a major role for Saudia, the airline that has been around for 78 years.

Saudia wants more Dreamliners

Saudia Airlines  also placed an order with Boeing today, selecting 39 787-9s and -10s plus ten options. The airline hasn’t specified the mix of the preliminary order. The current fleet already includes thirteen -9s and five -10s, all powered by General Electric GEnx engines.

“Saudia continues its expansion efforts in all aspects of the airline; whether it’s introducing new destinations or increasing the aircraft fleet. The agreement with Boeing delivers on this commitment and the newly added aircraft will further enable Saudia to fulfill its strategic objective of bringing the world to the Kingdom,” His Excellency Engr. Ibrahim Al-Omar, Director General of SAUDIA Group, says in a media statement.

Boeing is most happy with the two orders. “We are incredibly proud of our nearly eight decades of partnership to drive innovation and sustainable growth in Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector. Our agreement builds on that longstanding partnership and will further expand access to safe and sustainable commercial air travel for decades more,” said Stan Deal, President and CEO of Boeing Commercial Aircraft.

But don’t count out Airbus: the European airframer has been discussing potential orders for the A350 with Saudia for some time. Historically, Saudia has preferred Boeing for its long-haul aircraft. The airline also has a fleet of A320ceo/A321ceo aircraft, with the first A321neo currently in production in Hamburg. It also operates 33 A330-300s.

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Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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