Saudi’s budget airline in talks to buy 100 planes

Business Sunday 24/January/2016 17:54 PM
By: Times News Service
Saudi’s budget airline in talks to buy 100 planes

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s low-cost carrier Flynas is talking to Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier about a potential order for 100 new aircraft, after the carrier posted a profit in 2015 for the first time in its history.
The airline is considering 60 new planes in the next five years with an option for 40 more, Flynas chief executive Paul Byrne said in an interview in Bahrain. It’s considering the Airbus A320 Neos, Boeing 737 Maxs and Bombardier CS300 aircraft and expects to decide on the order this year.
Saudi Arabia, with a population of 30 million people, is removing restrictions in its travel market. It’s in the process of licensing two new operators, Saudi Gulf Air and Al Maha Airways, which is owned by Qatar Airways. The two new operators have experienced delays in obtaining their permits. Flynas currently has an all-Airbus fleet of 26 jets.
“We’re talking to Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier about purchasing or leasing depending on which is the best deal for us,” Byrne said. “If we were to change from Airbus to Boeing or Bombardier, that will be a big move for us but its not as dramatic as it sounds.”
The leases on Flynas’ 26 aircraft will end within six years and it will require additional aircraft for replacement and growth. On top of that, it will need more aircraft to cope with demand for pilgrimages to the country’s holy sites, increasing frequencies to some destinations and catering to Saudi’s large domestic travel market, he said.
“No one really knows the bottom of the Saudi market yet. There’s room for competition and expansion,” he said. The airline is exploring different options for financing new aircraft, including bank loans and sale and leaseback, Byrne said.