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Saudi Arabia Orders Over 100 New Airbus Jets to Tourism Push

Saudi Arabia’s national airline has placed an order for over 100 new Airbus jets, signaling the kingdom’s ambitious plans to attract more tourists. On Monday, Saudia Group, which includes the Saudia airline and its budget carrier Flyadeal, announced an order of 105 aircraft from the French aerospace company’s A320neo family, comprising 12 A320neos and 93 […]

Saudi Arabia’s national airline has placed an order for over 100 new Airbus jets, signaling the kingdom’s ambitious plans to attract more tourists.

On Monday, Saudia Group, which includes the Saudia airline and its budget carrier Flyadeal, announced an order of 105 aircraft from the French aerospace company’s A320neo family, comprising 12 A320neos and 93 A321neos. This increases Saudia Group’s backlog to 144 A320neo family planes.

Saudia stated that it is expanding flights and seat capacity across its more than 100 existing destinations to support the country’s goal of drawing over 150 million tourists by 2030.

In February, Airbus reported strong performance in its commercial aircraft division in its latest annual earnings report and set a target of 800 commercial aircraft deliveries for the year, 67 more than in 2023.

Airbus’s success contrasts with challenges faced by its U.S. rival Boeing, which had been recovering from two crashes of its Max jets in 2018 and 2019 that resulted in 346 fatalities in Indonesia and Ethiopia. However, on January 5, a door plug issue on an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 caused the company further setbacks.

Airbus has benefitted from its A321neo, a single-aisle aircraft with 180 to 230 seats. The “Neo” stands for new engine option, featuring highly fuel-efficient engines that reduce airlines’ operational costs. In response, Boeing introduced the Max, a 737 with new, more efficient engines, but faced numerous technical problems.

Despite Boeing’s difficulties, Airbus is unlikely to significantly increase its lead in the Airbus-Boeing duopoly because it is already producing planes at maximum capacity, with a backlog of over 8,600 orders to fulfill.

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