Saudi Arabia snubs Boeing with huge Airbus order

Saudia and Airbus announced the order on Monday.
Courtesy of Saudia

  • Saudia Group announced on Monday an order for 105 Airbus aircraft.
  • It comes as a Boeing order from Riyadh Air, also owned by the government, has yet to materialise.
  • Its chief executive blamed negative media coverage for why it has not yet announced the deal.

Saudia Group announced a huge order from Airbus on Monday, dealing a blow to Boeing.

105 narrow-body aircraft, a mix of A320neo and A321neo models, will be distributed between flag carrier Saudia and its low-cost subsidiary flyadeal.

In a press release, Saudia Group called it “the largest aircraft deal in the history of Saudi aviation.”

Saudia is owned by the country’s government and the airline’s president is also the transport minister.

The deal suggests Boeing’s reputation is worsening around the world because the plane maker previously won big orders from the kingdom.

Last March, Saudi Arabia founded a second national airline, Riyadh Air, which placed an order for up to 72 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Boeing also appeared set to win the deal for Riyadh Air’s narrow-body jets. Shortly before last November’s Dubai Airshow, Bloomberg reported that Riyadh Air was considering an order for up to 100 Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

However, that order has not yet materialized.

Tony Douglas, chief executive of Riyadh Air, blamed negative media coverage during an interview with Reuters on Monday.

“What happened was three weeks later the media spent every hour of every day writing negative stories about commercial aviation,” he said.

Douglas told Reuters he was not referring to the January explosion, in which an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max lost a door plug in the air.

“The last thing I want to do is present my good news and put it in the context of things that are happening elsewhere, which are not so positive,” he added. “Either Airbus can’t deliver on time (or) Boeing is having some technical problem.”