Flyadeal, which launched operations last September, currently has eight leased Airbus A320 aircraft and expects to receive three more before the end of this year. Image Credit: Twitter

Sydney: Saudi Arabian low-cost carrier Flyadeal plans to add eight to 10 aircraft per year to its fleet over the next few years as it looks to start international flights, according to its top executive.

The airline, which launched operations in September 2017, currently has eight leased Airbus A320 aircraft in its fleet, and expects to receive three more before the end of this year. Flyadeal is also in talks with both Airbus and Boeing about an order of 50 new aircraft.

“We’ll make a decision [on the 50 new aircraft] by the end of September and that will be the aircraft of the future for flyadeal,” said Con Korfiatis, chief executive officer of flyadeal, adding that the carrier is currently looking at Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and Airbus A320neo, and will pick one later this year for its fleet.

“If we choose the [Boeing 737] MAX, the idea would be that we’ll order extra MAXs to take out the [Airbus] 320s we currently have. It will be one [aircraft] type [in the fleet],” he told Gulf News in an interview on Tuesday.

He was speaking on the sidelines of International Air Transport Association’s annual meet in Sydney.

International routes

The fleet expansion is part of the airline’s plans to launch new routes to capitalise on what it views as strong growth potential in the region in the low-cost air travel segment. So far, flyadeal flies to eight cities within Saudi Arabia, but it is eying new destinations in the region including Dubai, Egypt and Turkey.

Korfiatis said the airline is yet to decide on which its first international route would be, but that it was assessing seven or eight cities that are within a 3-3.5-hour flying distance.

“I think it will be something nearby Saudi Arabia to start with. Dubai is one of those points in consideration. Dubai is a massive outbound market for Saudis,” he said.

“In Turkey we see multiple points as being of interest. Egypt also has several points we can fly to.”

And though flyadeal has only been operational for around eight months, the CEO sees strong demand in the Gulf region for budget carriers amid a lack of supply.

“I still think true low-cost in the region is under-exploited. I came from Southeast Asia before, where they have true low-cost around in every country since about 2003-2004. The (Middle East) region has very few true low-cost airlines, so I see enormous growth potential, not just in Saudi Arabia but more broadly through the region,” Korfiatis said.