Saudi Arabia eyes defense deals at Paris show

Saudi Arabia eyes defense deals at Paris show
Saudi Arabia eyes defense deals at Paris show

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s budget airline flynas has signed a $3.73 billion agreement with Airbus to buy 30 aircraft, Saudi state TV reported on Monday.

The deal was signed at the Paris Air Show by Bandar Al-Mohanna, flynas CEO and managing director, and Christian Scherer, Airbus chief commercial officer and head of international, in the presence of Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh Al-Jasser, Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, president of General Authority of Civil Aviation, and Ayed Aljeaid, chairman of the board of NAS Holding.

Looking to reach new long-haul destinations across its route map, flynas’ agreement includes 10 A321XLRs. These planes will join the airline’s existing fleet of 21 A320neos, 13 A320ceos, and four A330-300s. Between January and the end of this year, 19 A320neos would have been added to the operator’s fleet. Four have already been delivered in 2023 alone.

In a statement, Al-Mohanna said: “The A320neo Family brings unmatched benefits to our passengers, offering exceptional operational performance and environmental benefits while helping us provide unique travel experiences at low-cost.”

Commenting on the deal, Scherer said: “Unbeatable economics, longer range capability, and the most spacious single aisle cabin have made the A320neo Family the preferred choice of airlines worldwide.”

The planemaker also announced a record 500-plane deal with Indian airline IndiGo on the first day of the air show. The world’s largest air show, which alternates with Farnborough in Britain, is at Le Bourget for the first time in four years after the 2021 edition fell victim to the pandemic.

French President Emmanuel Macron flew in to the packed aerospace bazaar by helicopter and watched a flying demonstration including Airbus’ latest jet development, the A321XLR, and air power including the French Rafale fighter.

On the civilian side, plane makers arrived with growing demand expectations as airlines rush for capacity to meet demand and help reach industry goals of net zero emissions by 2050.

Industry executives say as many as 2,000 jet orders are up for grabs worldwide in a resurgent commercial jet market, on top of those provisionally announced already, as airlines try to fill a void left by sharp falls in activity in the COVID-19 crisis.

Only a portion of these potential fresh deals will be ready in time for this week’s air show, which could see a mixture of new and repeat announcements, they said.

IndiGo’s deal highlights the growing importance of India, the world’s fastest-growing aviation market, serving the largest population, to plane makers.

American Airlines ordered 460 single-aisle aircraft: 260 Airbus A320s and 200 Boeing 737, at a catalog price of $38 billion. Four Chinese airlines — Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, and Shenzhen Airlines — placed simultaneous orders for a total of 292 A320neo aircraft from Airbus worth $37 billion at list prices.

United Airlines ordered 270 medium-haul aircraft: 200 Boeing 737 MAX and 70 Airbus A321neo worth $35.4 billion at catalog prices.

Defense side

France’s Thales also announced a contract from Indonesia for 13 long-range air surveillance radars.

Looking ahead to the rest of the show, Airbus is expected to confirm that Qantas is exercising options for nine more A220s, as announced by the airline this year.

The plane maker is also close to a potentially large order for narrow-body jets from Mexican low-cost carrier Viva Aerobus, industry sources said on Sunday.

The number of planes being discussed was more than 100, they said, though by Monday some sources said the number in the final deal could settle closer to 60.

The Mexican carrier has long been a fierce battleground between Boeing and Airbus.

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