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Saudia announces ‘largest deal in Saudi aviation history’

A jet on the assembly line at the Airbus factory in Blagnac, France. Saudia says it is updating the interiors of its current fleet Reuters/Martin Bertrand/Hans Lucas
A jet on the assembly line at the Airbus factory in Blagnac, France. Saudia says it is updating the interiors of its current fleet
  • Carrier orders 105 jets from Airbus
  • Deal follows Riyadh Air order
  • First aircraft due in early 2026

Saudia, one of Saudi Arabia’s national carriers, has ordered 105 aircraft from Airbus, with the first batch due for delivery in early 2026.

Saudia director general Ibrahim Al-Omar told an aviation industry forum in Riyadh that it is “the largest deal in Saudi aviation history”.

A similarly large order has been made by new carrier Riyadh Air.  

Al-Omar added that 88 new aircraft “will be received in the next five years”, in what appeared to be an additional order, though he gave no more details. 

Al-Omar said Saudia was also updating the interiors of its current fleet with new seats and private seating spaces, which would be completed by the end of 2025. 

Saudia Group had said last November it was close to agreement on 100 narrowbody jets but wants the manufacturer to agree to supply an additional 50-plus. At the time, Saudia declined to identify the manufacturer but said supply chain issues were part of the reason it had not agreed to more than 100 jets. 

New Saudi airline Riyadh Air, owned by the Public Investment Fund, said last week it will announce a fleet of narrowbody jets later this year for a first-phase expansion that will eventually include a new terminal in Riyadh. 

It has already ordered 72 widebody aircraft from troubled manufacturer Boeing, which are due for delivery by the start of operations in mid-2025. Riyadh Air declined to say if the latest narrowbody orders would be from the same supplier. 

Riyadh Air is intended to replace state-owned Saudia in the capital and cater to tourist expansion, while Saudia will relocate and use Jeddah as its base.

The government says it is aiming for more than 150 million visitors a year by 2030 as part of the country’s massive economic transformation programme. Tourism is targeted to cover 10 percent of non-oil GDP. 

Saudi Arabia said last week that its total number of air passengers rose 26 percent to 112 million in 2023. This includes a 46 percent rise in the total number of international travellers to 61 million.

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