In a deal that looks like one from the old days of multi-billion dollar orders when there were airshows, Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation (Saudia) has signed a $ 3.0 billion financing agreement for the purchase of 73 new aircraft. The agreement, hailed as the largest in the country’s history, was signed on March 18 and partially finances previously announced orders with Airbus and Boeing.
They include 20 A321neo’s and 15 A321XLRs for Saudia, plus 30 A320neo’s for its low-cost subsidiary flyadeal. Airbus’ latest orders list from February 28 shows 30 A320neo’s and 35 A321neo’s for Saudia and none for flyadeal. At the 2019 Paris Airshow, Saudia announced a follow-on order for 65 A320neo-aircraft including 35 options to its previous order for 35 A320neo family aircraft. Fifteen A321XLRs were part of this order. None of the aircraft have been delivered pending financing, but the plan is they will arrive by 2024.
From Boeing, Saudia will purchase three more 787-10 which are additional to the five that have been delivered since September 2019.
The financing agreement has been supported by six Saudian banks, Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi British Bank, Arab National Bank, Samba, Bank Al Jazira, and Bank Albilad, while HSBC Saudi acted as a financial advisor for the airline. The fleet expansion targets the overall growth of the nation’s economy by attracting new tourists as well as pilgrims to Saudi Arabia’s holy places as outlined in its Vision 2030 plan.
Saudia’s fleet currently encompasses 158 aircraft. Its five 787-10s and thirteen -9s are the youngest, while 46 A320ceo’s are on average 5.8 years old according to Planespotters data, with the oldest joining the airline back in 2009. The airline had ordered 22 A320ceo’s directly with Airbus in December 2007. Fifteen A321ceo’s were delivered between 2010 and 2013.
Saudia’s long-haul fleet includes 32 A330-300s delivered between 2010 and 2017. Its 35 Boeing 777-300ERs have been in the fleet since 2012 and mid-2017, plus four 777 freighters since 2015. Also in the fleet are eight Boeing 747-400s, most of them used as freighters and operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic.
Flyadeal operates a fleet of eleven Airbus A320ceo’s delivered since August 2017, leased through DAE while it leased one A320neo from Avolon since August 2020. The low-cost was established in 2016 and started operations on September 23, 2017.