Dubai: Flynas, Saudi Arabia’s first low-cost airline, on Tuesday signed a firm order at the Dubai Airshow for ten long-range versions of the Airbus A321, building upon a preliminary deal signed at the Paris air show in June.
The A321XLR, a new version of Airbus’ single-aisle plane that competes with Boeing’s 737 MAX, was launched earlier this year against the backdrop of the recent 737 MAX grounding.
“This is a new technology aircraft with impressive fuel savings and long flying range that has already been a game changer for Flynas,” said Bander Al Mohanna, chief executive officer of Flynas, formerly known as Nas Air.
“The XLR has now more than 400 commitments and firm orders signed, since the official launch of this programme not so long ago,” said Christian Scherer, chief commercial officer at Airbus.
There is demand for destinations falling into the eight-nine hour journey range, which fits the purpose of the A321XLR, making Flynas “take the aircraft tomorrow if it was available,” Al Mohanna said, adding that the first of the Airbus narrow-body aircraft will be delivered in 2025.
“The increase in XLRs will extend the reach of Flynas network to much further destinations, with the support of significantly longer flying range compared to the existing A320neo orders. And therefore we hope to further support Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 of an increase in number of religious pilgrims to four-times the current level.”
Earlier this year, the Saudi government relaxed its strict visa regime for pilgrims travelling to the kingdom for Hajj and Umrah. With the pilgrimage traffic into the kingdom expected to pickup, Flynas was prompted to expand its fleet and its network, said Flynas’ Chairman Ayed Al Jeaid.
The Riyadh-based discount airline, which has 32 A320s in service with four A321neos to date, ordered 80 A320neo family jets in 2017, with purchase options for more 40 aircraft. In June, it signed an initial agreement to swap some of those for larger A321 versions.