Salam Air Interested In Narrow Body Airbus Acquisition

Oman-based Salam Air could be looking to rapidly grow its reach and order up to 12 more Airbus narrow body jets.

A Salam Air Airbus A320.
A Salam Air Airbus A320. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Konstantin von Wedelstaedt

Salam Air’s current fleet consists solely of the Airbus A320 family. It could look to the A321 and A220 for its next order. The National spoke with Mohamed Ahmed, Salam Air’s CEO, who said Salam Air is evaluating its options:

“There’s advantage to sticking to one plane type that fits all, but if business plans prove that having smaller capacity or longer range would bring additional revenue then of course we’d look at it.”

An order by the end of the year?

The airline may decide on its final order make-up by the end of the year, as it agrees traffic rights to new markets and contracts for oilfield charter flights.

Ahmed says that the up to 150-seater A220s are being considered for shorter routes, charter flights, and smaller airports. The A321 is also in the running, due to its longer range and greater capacity. The CEO confirmed Salam Air would be looking at new destinations within a six-hour flying range, but that it won’t currently look to add budget long-haul flights.

Salam Air
Photo: Salam Air/salamair.com

Ambitious plans

Salam Air is privately owned, but is expected to go public with an IPO, potentially as early as 2024. It began operating in 2017 and in the next five years hopes to operate to and from 60 global destinations with a total of 20 aircraft.

The budget airline currently has four A320s, either leased or owned, and routes between 20 cities. It expects passenger volumes to reach one million in 2019, increasing from 700,000 in 2018. This year, Salam Air will operate five new routes to Riyadh, Kuwait, Tehran, and to two of Turkey’s airports; Trabzon and Sabiha Gokcen.

A delivery of A320neos already on order will take Salam Air’s total fleet to nine by the end of 2019. However, some of these A320neos are arriving later than expected due to engine shortages experienced by Airbus. Ahmed told The National:

“We had even more aggressive plans but Airbus delayed most of the aircraft. We should have received all six A320neo aircraft before this summer, but we’re only receiving three before summer and three are coming post-summer, so once those aircraft come we’ll add more destinations and increase frequencies.”

Increased demand as other airlines cancel flights

Salam Air has seen increased demand, according to the CEO, as other carriers cancel flights due to the Boeing 737 MAX grounding. Regionally, Oman Air has five grounded 737 MAX and flydubai has 14.

flydubai airbus order
flydubai is the second largest Boeing 737 MAX customer. Photo: flydubai

Simple Flying reported, on May 2nd, that flydubai may be in discussions with Airbus over future orders, after frustrations with Boeing and the grounding of the 737 MAX. The airline has only taken delivery of a small fraction of its total order for 175 Boeing 737 MAX. This order is worth a reported $27 billion, making flydubai the second largest MAX customer.

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