Saudia plots major fleet order for 2022



Saudi Arabian Airlines is preparing for a major wide-body aircraft order next year as it revises its fleet plan to match traffic and product expectations with the kingdom’s ambitious ‘vision 2030’ strategy.

Chief executive, Captain Ibrahim Koshy, said the carrier is revising its fleet plan now and expects the outcome in the first quarter of 2022.

Discussions are on-going with Airbus and Boeing on its plans, with any order placed being focused on growth rather than for replacement as the carrier already has an extremely young fleet.

“We are putting capacity on what we believe we will need to serve the market for vision 2030,” said Koshy, which has a target to welcome 100 million travelers to the kingdom by 2030.

Not only does Saudi Arabian require more aircraft to deliver on this ambition, it needs more capacity to meet strong growth in the pilgrimage market.

“The Saudi market is changing with a lot more younger travelers and more leisure travellers, both in our domestic and our international businesses,” said Koshy.

As the market changes, the carrier is studying how its on-board product needs to adapt with upgrades and investment in in-flight entertainment equipment, seats, and interiors, he said.

The airline is looking carefully at its cabin class mix in its wide-bodies. “Customer expectations have changed,” said Koshy. It is looking at the size of the first-class and business-class cabins and seriously studying the introduction of a premium-economy product, he said.

A decision will also be taken next year, with the likelihood that premium-economy will become part of the Saudi Arabian product portfolio.

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