Saudi Arabian budget carrier Flyadeal and Nigerian Green Africa Airways’ commitments for Boeing 737 Max jets have given the US planemaker an edge over its French rival Airbus in the 2018 race for plane orders.
Boeing so far in the year secured 690 plane orders through the end of November, the latest full-month report available, overtaking Airbus’ 380 net order of aircraft in the same period, according to the companies’ websites. The Chicago-based planemaker beat its French rival after signing accords worth billions of dollars with the Saudi and African carriers on December 21.
Flyadeal will switch from an all-Airbus A320 fleet after signing an agreement to purchase 30 of the Boeing 737 Max narrow-bodies. The low-cost arm of Saudi Arabian Airlines, or Saudia as it’s known, said on Friday it also has options for 20 more of the jet that competes with Airbus’ A320Neos. The 50-jet accord is valued at up to $5.9 billion at list price, though discounts for customers are often made.
The accord ended months of deliberation by the Flyadeal board to pick a plane-maker for its 50-jet requirement that Airbus and Boeing had been competing for since the airline issued a request for proposals in 2017.
Jeddah-based Flyadeal, which currently operates domestic routes, opted for the 737 Max 8 that has capacity for 189 passengers in a one-class configuration.
“The addition to the fleet aligns well with flyadeal’s target to grow its presence in the domestic market and cover new markets outside of Saudi Arabia,” Saleh Al Jasser, director-general of Saudia, said.
The airline began operations last year and flies to 8 domestic routes including Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Qassim, Tabuk, Gizan, Madinah and Abha.