Once upon a time, the flag carrier for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft. However, Saudia hasn’t operated these aircraft for over a decade. So where did these 737s go? Let’s find out.
New livery, new jets
The airline’s website says that Saudia received its first five 737-200s in 1972. Subsequently, this made Saudia’s fleet “the most modern in the Middle East” at the time.
These new jets would sport a newly introduced livery that also bore the carrier’s new name: Saudia. Before this, the airline went by the name of Saudi Arabian Airlines. The Boeing 737s were purchased to replace the Douglas DC-9, as well as the Convair 340s and DC-3s.
Boeing’s website shows that these short-haul twin-jets grew to a fleet size of 20. Boeing goes on to say that “the 100-seat capacity of these 737-200s soon became the standard for all except the most dense domestic routes“.
Saying goodbye to the 737s
According to Airfleets, the Boeing 737s left Saudia around 2006. Before the 737 arch-rival A320 arrived in 2009, it appears that some Embraer 170/175s, as well as a fleet of nearly 30 McDonnell Douglas MD-90s, took on the job of short-haul flights.
Saudia then says that, on October 28, 2009, it received two Airbus A320s, which began operating flights in November of that year. However, this transition to Airbus was just the beginning. At present Saudia has numerous narrowbody jets from the Airbus A320 family. This includes 46 A320s and 15 A321s. Some of these A320s have flatbed seats in business class.
The carrier still uses Boeing aircraft for its widebody, long-haul operations, namely the Boeing 777 and 787. Saudia actually just received its first 787-10 in September.
Where are the 737s now?
Information gathered from Airfleets shows that the majority of Saudia 737s left the fleet at the same time. This would be around 2006 and 2007. The majority of these jets went on to fly with other airlines, namely Silver Air, Phoenix Aviation, and Esen Air among others. These aircraft were eventually put into storage in the early 2010s.
Interestingly, Saudia flew a single 737-300 for a short period. This aircraft, TF-ABL, served with the airline for about half a year before going on to British Airways. If records are accurate, this particular aircraft then flew with Jet2 until last year!
I can’t say that I’ve ever flown on a Saudia Boeing 737. However, I had the opportunity to try out the airline’s A320 service between Milan and Riyadh. This flight was a real treat compared to other long-distance, narrowbody flights.
Have you ever flown on Saudia and their 737s? Let us know what it was like by leaving a comment!