Flynas signs deal for 80 Airbus planes

Flynas signs deal for 80 Airbus planes
Saudi Flynas chairman, Ayed Al-Jeaid, center, offers Airbus Executive Vice President, Europe, Africa and Pacific, Christopher Puckley, center right, a gift as the Middle East director for the European Aerospace company, Fouad Attar, right, looks on during a signing ceremony of an agreement in Riyadh on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 17 January 2017

Flynas signs deal for 80 Airbus planes

Flynas signs deal for 80 Airbus planes

RIYADH: Low-cost Saudi carrier flynas on Monday signed an $8.6-billion deal with European plane manufacturer Airbus to purchase 80 A320neo single-aisle jets.
Flynas chairman Ayed Al-Jeaid said in Riyadh the deal includes an option for 40 more of the short to medium-haul planes, to cater for what airline executives described as a growing domestic market.
Bander Al-Mohanna, the chief executive of NAS Holding, of which flynas is a division, signed the agreement with Fouad Attar, Middle East director for France-based Airbus.
Mohanna told a news conference following the ceremony that the aim of the deal was for flynas to “play a leading role in the market,” which he described as “very huge.” Delivery would begin next year and continue until at least 2026, flynas executives said.
The 10-year-old airline exclusively operates the A320, leasing almost 30 of the aircraft, and its passenger numbers now exceed six million annually, executives said.
The carrier concentrates on the Arabian peninsula and the immediate vicinity within four hours’ flying time.
“Our major focus is to serve the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” which accounts for 70 percent of the airline’s flights, Mohanna said.
Saudi Arabian Airlines is the dominant player and aims to expand its own fleet to 200 aircraft by 2020.
Saudia flew more than 29 million passengers in 2015, and in June last year placed an $8-billion order with Airbus for 50 planes for domestic flights.
Two new entrants, Nesma and SaudiGulf, have launched domestic flights but Jeaid told the ceremony: “We don’t believe that such competition threatens us.”
Under its wide-ranging Vision 2030 plan announced in April, Saudi Arabia aims to diversify its oil-dependent economy. Among the measures is development of the tourism sector, privatization of state-owned services including airports, and a linking of transport networks to position Saudi Arabia as a regional logistics hub.
The plan also calls for an increase in the number of Muslim visitors performing the umrah ... to Islam’s holiest sites in Makkah and Madinah.
“We expect a lot more traffic just from local pilgrimage and international pilgrimage,” flynas CEO Paul Byrne told AFP after the ceremony.
He said that with around half the Kingdom’s airports currently served by flynas, the remainder provide growth potential, as does the Kingdom’s youthful population. More than half of Saudis are under 25.
“There’s a lot of young Saudis now who are going to generate a lot of business for the airlines in the coming years and decades,” Byrne said.
He added that owning planes, rather than leasing, gives the airline more control over its financial future.