Saudi Arabian Airlines has signed a MoU for 22 A320 narrowbodies, heralding the eventual signing of the first order by the Kingdom’s flag carrier for Airbus airplanes in some two decades, Airbus announced here yesterday. The agreement allows the flag carrier to increase the order by eight aircraft of the same type.
The airline has also leased, for eight years, ten A320s from General Electric Aviation Services, which it will introduce from November 2009 to October 2011 in place of existing aircraft. It also has agreed to lease ten A320s from Bahrain’s Gulf One Investment Bank, for delivery from April 2009 until July 2010.
The re-equipment with A320s will form the “cornerstone” of Saudi Arabian’s fleet modernization plan that will precede the flag-carrier’s planned privatization. It previously served as a launch customer for the Airbus A300-600 twin-aisle twinjet.
Separately, the airline’s technical services division has signed a $1.4 billion collaboration agreement with General Electric Aviation to build an engine-overhaul center at King Abdul Aziz International Airport, including a test cell to accommodate powerplants up to 150,000 pounds thrust.
Today, Saudi Arabian will sign joint-cooperation agreements with maintenance providers Air France Industries/KLM Engineering & Maintenance and Lufthansa Technik under which the three parties will explore areas of mutual interest. Saudi Arabian plans that its technical-services division should become the largest Saudi-workforce MRO facility in the region.