Air Arabia
Budget carrier Air Arabia on Monday signed a deal with Airbus for an order of 120 aircraft worth a total of $14 billion Image Credit: Air Arabia

Dubai: Budget carrier Air Arabia on Monday signed a deal with Airbus for an order of 120 aircraft worth a total of $14 billion, giving the European manufacturer its second major order of the day.

The order includes 70 A320 neos, with the remaining 50 aircraft consisting of A321 XLR aircraft and A321 neos.

It comes after several months of negotiations between Air Arabia and aircraft manufacturers, as the carrier earlier said it was eyeing an order of over 100 jets.

The deal marks the second order of aircraft from a UAE-based carrier at this year’s Dubai Air Show, after Emirates made an order for 50 Airbus A350 aircraft worth $16 billion.

For Airbus, the two deals mean a total of $30 billion in orders from UAE carriers, as Boeing has so far bagged none locally.

Adel Ali, chief executive officer of Air Arabia, said the new order will take the carrier well into the 2020’s and onwards, and will allow it to expand its operations. He said the airline is interested in boosting operations South East Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Delivery of the 120 aircraft to Air Arabia will start in 2024.

“When we ordered the 321LR, we did share that the objective is try to go further range. We always wanted narrow-body airplanes, not wide-bodies, and the A321 was a game changer for Air Arabia’s business,” Ali said at a signing ceremony.

Some of the newly-ordered aircraft will be used to replace existing aircraft that are due to retire, Air Arabia said without specifying just how many.

The aircraft could also be used on Air Arabia Abu Dhabi’s business, Ali said. Air Arabia and Etihad Aviation Group last month signed a deal to launch the new airline, which will be the fifth UAE-based carrier and the first low-cost one based in Abu Dhabi.

The CEO said the new aircraft will be used “as and when needed” for Air Arabia’s different hubs, be it in Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Ras Al Khaimah, or the main Sharjah hub.

Discussing Air Arabia Abu Dhabi’s operations, he said, “It’s work in progress, and we hope that by the second quarter next year, we should be operational, but … a lot of licensing needs to be done and setting up the hub.”

“Air Arabia Abu Dhabi is good news for us and we’re very happy to set up jointly with Etihad Airways. Both Etihad Group and Air Arabia see this as an excellent complement to the UAE’s aviation industry, and we will be progressing from there.”