Saudia expands fleet

25 September 2016

State-backed airline plans to launch a low-cost carrier in 2017

State-backed Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has received 63 new aircraft in August, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) announced during the kingdom’s National Day.

The new fleet comprises 15 B777-ER and 13 B787 (Dreamliner) aircraft  from the US’ Boeing, and 35 Airbus New Generation A320/A321-neos (new engine options).

The planes are part of the deals Saudia signed with Airbus and Boeing between 2015 and 2016. It signed a deal for 50 A330 Regionals and A320 aircraft in 2015.

GCC airlines fleet status 
 In-service (passenger & cargo)On order
Emirates Airline246240
Qatar Airways190329
Etihad Airways121178
Source: Airlines  

The kingdom’s national carrier expects to receive four B787-9s in 2017, according to a Saudi Gazette report citing the airline’s director general Saleh al-Jasser. The new passenger fleet will serve both domestic and international routes.

The airline has a total of 119 in-service fleet prior to the delivery of the new aircraft.The carrier had earlier said it plans to bring total in-service fleet to 200 in 2020.

Apart from seeing new entrants, the much-awaited liberalisation of the kingdom’s aviation sector is expected to free up Saudia’s fleet, two-thirds of which cater to domestic flights, to cater to international routes and catch up with the aggressively expanding airlines in the UAE and Qatar.

The airline said it will launch a low-cost carrier by mid-2017 to be named Flyadeal.

Three airlines, all privately-held, are expecting to commence operations in Saudi Arabia between the last quarter of 2016 and early 2017: SaudiGulf Airlines (Al-Qahtani), Nesma Air (Nesma Group) and Al-Maha Airways (Qatar Airways).

Saudia is understood to control 90 per cent of the kingdom’s aviation sector, with Kingdom Holding-backed Flynas accounting for the rest.

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