DALLAS – Saudi Arabia is in advanced talks with European plane maker Airbus for an order of around 40 A350 aircraft.
According to a Reuters report, there are also purchase options on the table for a further 40 airframes.
The report states that the country is looking to establish a new carrier to compete with the Middle East’s “Big Three”: Emirates (EK), Qatar (QR), and Etihad (EY).
A New National Carrier
Known as RIA Airlines, the new company, based in Riyadh (RUH), will be Saudi Arabia’s second national carrier alongside 77-year-old Jeddah (JED)-based Saudia (SV).
The new company forms part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s US$100 billion investment in aviation as part of the Vision 2030 plans. This will see the country move away from its reliance on oil and build new industries to create new jobs and support the economy.
Sources state that an order could be announced this week at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum to be held in Riyadh.
Boeing Vs. Airbus
The country’s sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF) has been in talks with Boeing and Airbus for orders of up to 75 aircraft for some time. This includes several single-aisle airframes, pitting the Boeing 737 MAX against the Airbus A320neo.
There is the possibility that the order could be split between the two manufacturers, given that SV operates a mix of Airbus and Boeing aircraft.
A source told Reuters that the kingdom was believed to be drawn towards Boeings 787 ‘Dreamliner.’ However, mounting political tensions between the Gulf country and the United States could sway any decision.
Featured Image: Sources have said that the new carrier is leaning towards Airbus’ A350. Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways.