Saudi Arabia needs to invest heavily in airports and aircrafts if it's to hit its lofty tourism goals, which would help the country wean away from an economy centered on oil.
Saudi budget airline flynas is in negotiations with both Boeing and its current supplier Airbus to buy aircraft worth $13 billion to $15 billion, Chief Executive Bander al-Mohanna told Al Arabiya in an interview published on Monday.
The carrier has increased the number of planned new orders to 250 aircraft and also plans to increase the number of destinations to 165 from 70, al-Mohanna was reported saying.
The acceleration in the airline’s growth plans, which coincides with ambitions by Saudi Arabia to develop its airline industry and become a hub for tourism, was first reported by Bloomberg.
Flynas, part-owned by the investment firm of Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, was launched as Nas Air in 2007 with an all-Airbus fleet.
The Riyadh-based discount carrier, which competes with state-owned Saudi carrier flyadeal, ordered 80 A320neo-family jets in 2017, with purchasing options for 40 more.
In November, the airline’s chief executive said flynas was in talks to exercise some or all of the 40 options, and industry sources said it had already reached an agreement that would see some of those extra planes include the long-range A321XLR model.
As of the end of February, flynas operated a partially leased fleet of 39 Airbus jets, with further 76 yet to be delivered from the manufacturer, according to Airbus data.
(Reporting by Lina Najem and Nayera Abdallah; Additional reporting by Tim Hepher Editing by Tomasz Janowski)
Photo credit: Flynas plans to increase the number of destinations it flights to Laurent ERRERA / Wikimedia Commons