SaudiGulf Airlines Cancels 16 Airbus A220 Orders

SaudiGulf Airlines has cancelled an order for 16 Airbus A220-300 aircraft in March of 2020. These aircraft were initially ordered when the A220 was known as the Bombardier CSeries.

SaudiGulf Airlines Cancels 16 Airbus A220 Orders
SaudiGulf has cancelled its order for 16 Airbus A220s. Photo: Airbus

SaudiGulf and the A220

In an update to its order books, Airbus recorded a reduction in 16 A220-300 orders from SaudiGulf. This order was originally placed back in 2014 at the Bahrain Air Show for 16 of the larger -300 variant and 10 options according to FlightGlobal.

SaudiGulf Airlines Cancels 16 Airbus A220 Orders
SaudiGulf ordered the aircraft in 2014 when it was known as the CSeries. Photo: Bombardier

The aircraft was to seat 135 passengers in a “premium-economy and first-class layout to the highest luxury CSeries specification so-far ordered” per a statement from then-president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, Mike Arcamone.

SaudiGulf Airlines history

At the time of the order, the airline was not operational. It only commenced operations in Saudi Arabia using four Airbus A320ceo aircraft out of King Fahd International Airport in Dammam. Flights operated from Dammam to Riyadh, Jeddah, and Abha.

SaudiGulf Airlines Cancels 16 Airbus A220 Orders
Initial routes for SaudiGulf Airlines out of Dammam. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper

Then, in 2018, the airline began international flights starting with twice-daily service between Riyadh and Dubai. Later flights were added to Sialkot, Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad in Pakistan. And, in recent months, the airline went on to add new flights to Cairo and Amman.

Though small, the carrier had large ambitions. However, it appears that the CSeries was not going to work out for the carrier.

SaudiaGulf Orders Airbus A320neos

Owner of SaudiGulf Airlines, Al-Qahtani Aviation, agreed to purchase 10 Airbus A320neo aircraft at the 2018 Bahrain International Airshow. By the time of the order, the airline operated a total of six A320ceo aircraft. In an Airbus release, Sheikh Tariq Abdulhadi Al Qahtani, Chairman of Al-Qahtani Aviation and SaudiGulf Airlines, offered the following statement on the A320neo:

As a premium service boutique airline we are excited to be adding the A320neo to our fleet. This expansion is in keeping with our intention to see the Saudi aviation sector continue to develop and grow in support of the Saudi Vision 2030.

Airbus, Deliveries, Cancellations
SaudiGulf ordered the A320neo in 2018. Photo: Airbus

The airline’s ambitions were big. In addition to these 10 directly ordered from Airbus, the carrier held options for 10 more and sought leasing opportunities for up to twenty more A320neos through 2021 at a rate of six to eight aircraft annually starting from the end of 2019. Although, the airline’s progress on securing a lessor for those aircraft is currently unclear. SaudiGulf has not announced any major new deliveries or delivery schedules for this many aircraft.

Ultimately, for an airline the size of SaudiGulf, a diverse fleet increases operational costs and reduces efficiency. Given the current climate of the aviation world, reducing costs, capacity, and cutting orders and delaying deliveries is the broader trend and, thus, it is not terribly surprising to see SaudiGulf cancel its A220 order.

What do you make of SaudiGulf’s cancellation of Airbus A220-300 orders?

Simple Flying reached out to Airbus to comment. However, the manufacturer was not immediately available. This article will be updated accordingly.