Saudi flyadeal Scraps 737 MAX Order for Airbus A320 Family

Today in Jeddah, Saudi Arabian airline flyadeal made the announcement of a significant addition to its fleet: an order for 30x A320neo aircraft, with options for an additional 20x A320neo family aircraft. This, the airline proclaims, is in response to continuing growth in passenger demand seen in domestic, regional, as well as international routes. Sadly, this comes as negative news for Boeing as the Saudia subsidiary will not proceed with their provisional order for 30 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Saudi flyadeal Scraps 737 MAX Order for Airbus A320 Family
flyadeal had a provisional order with Boeing but decided to scrap it. Photo: flyadeal

According to flyadeal’s official press release, deliveries of the new aircraft will commence in 2021. The allocation of these new jets to flyadeal comes after the agreement which Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation (Saudia), signed during the Paris Air Show in June this year.

The Saudia connection

The Saudia agreement was for 100 aircraft, and signed by the Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation, His Excellency Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser. Also in attendance for signing was Christian Scherer, Airbus’ Chief Commercial Officer. Both signed the documents in the presence of the Chairman of Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation, His Excellency Dr. Ghassan Abdulrahman Al-Shibil.

Saudi flyadeal Scraps 737 MAX Order for Airbus A320 Family
Saudia signing for up to 100 Airbus A320neos. Airbus and Saudi VIPs are present for the event. Photo: Airbus

flyadeal says that the additional aircraft will target price conscious travelers, according to this blurb in their press release:

“The additional aircraft are part of the dual brand strategy of the Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation where flyadeal serves the price conscious customer that is seeking Everyday Low Fares.”

A snub to Boeing

With the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 being direct competitors with each other, this order replaces the 30 737 MAX jets that were part of a provisional order made by flyadeal late last year. The order also had additional purchasing options for 20 737 MAX jets. At list prices the order was worth $5.9 billion.

After two 737 MAX aircraft crashed in Ethiopia in March and Indonesia last October, flyadeal began reconsidering its original commitment to order the aircraft type. In a Reuters article, a Boeing spokesperson said:

“We understand that flyadeal will not finalize its commitment to the 737 MAX at this time given the airline’s schedule requirements,”

This case proves that it is important to understand aircraft order jargon and stay skeptical when an announcement is only based on a Letter of Intent. In fact, it’s possible we will see something quite similar happen with IAG and their massive order of 200 737 MAX aircraft.

The flyadeal fleet

The result of this new order will see flyadeal operating an all-Airbus A320 fleet in the future. Launched in September 2017, flyadeal was ‘born’ on Saudi Arabia’s national day almost two years ago.

Saudi flyadeal Scraps 737 MAX Order for Airbus A320 Family
The cabin layout and prices (in Saudi Riyal). Photo: flyadeal
Saudi flyadeal Scraps 737 MAX Order for Airbus A320 Family
flyadeal has a fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft. Photo: flyadeal

Currently, flyadeal operates 11x Airbus A320s. With this order of 30 neo aircraft, this will push their fleet size to 41. Furthermore, the fleet could be as large as 61 if they choose to exercise their options.

flyadeal routes

flyadeal currently only travels to domestic destinations within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These include the following:

  • Abha – Abha Regional Airport
  • Dammam – King Fahd International Airport
  • Jeddah – King Abdulaziz International Airport (Base)
  • Qassim – Prince Nayef Bin Abdulaziz Regional Airport
  • Riyadh – King Khalid International Airport
  • Tabuk – Tabuk Regional Airport
  • Jizan – King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Airport
  • Medina – Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz Airport

Unfortunately, this means that the majority of the world will have limited access to experiencing this airline as Saudi Arabia is famously restrictive with tourists entering the country. However, it looks like the government will soon open its country up to the world. We just don’t have an exact date.