Airbus Seals A320 Deal with Yemenia

 - January 21, 2010, 6:34 AM

Airbus has received a firm purchase order for 10 A320s from Yemeni flag carrier Yemenia, the European manufacturer announced today. The agreement follows a memorandum of understanding signed by the Sanaa-based airline at the Dubai Air Show, where Yemenia board member Saleh Alawaji said the airplanes would replace the airline’s three aging A310s and fill a capacity gap while it awaits delivery of the first of 10 A350s on order by the end of 2015. In a press release issued today, however, Airbus said the A320s would replace both the airline’s narrowbody and widebody aircraft. The airline’s narrowbody fleet consists of four Boeing 737-800s.

“Our new A320s will share operational and maintenance commonality with our existing Airbus A330s and our future A350s, said Yemenia chairman and CEO Abdulkhalek Al-Kadi. “The increased efficiency of this integrated fleet will help us achieve our growth targets.”

Plans call for the first of the A320s to arrive in Sanaa next year, as Yemenia embarks on a strategy to enhance and expand its regional services to the Persian Gulf states, the greater Middle East, Africa, India and southern European destinations. Yemenia has opted for a 150-seat cabin layout, featuring 12 seats in business class and 138 in economy.

Concerns over the airworthiness of a Yemenia A310 that crashed off the Comoros Islands on June 30 had led to a diplomatic row between the governments of France and Yemen last year. Airbus, however, managed to steer clear of the political mire and land this latest order despite Yemeni threats to retaliate for public statements by French politicians criticizing Yemenia’s safety practices.