Royal Jordanian orders six Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners at Dubai Airshow

Costs to operate flights have become higher amid Israel-Gaza war, chief executive says

Stanley Deal, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, left, and Samer Majali, chief executive of Royal Jordanian Airlines, at a signing ceremony during the Dubai Airshow on Monday. Leslie Pableo / The National
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Jordan's state airline Royal Jordanian Airlines has placed an order for six Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners as it seeks to grow its long-haul operations amid a highly competitive aviation industry in the Middle East.

The agreement comprises a firm order for four 787-9 jets and a reconfirmation for two more planes that were previously cancelled, Samer Majali, vice chairman and chief executive of Royal Jordanian, told reporters.

This is in addition to three leases for brand new planes, he said.

The original order for the two planes were made “way back … because of issues in the region, the Arab Spring and so on … so we tailed our original order and we reduced it”, he said.

Deliveries are expected to begin in 2025, when two of the leased planes will be handed over, followed by the third in 2026.

The six new aircraft will then follow, beginning with one delivery each in 2027 and 2028, two more in 2030 and the remaining to follow, Mr Majali said.

The deal, which also includes a fleet connectivity retrofit for Royal Jordanian's Boeing 787 fleet, is aimed at helping the airline “drive efficiency and comfort”, he said.

The order also comes amid a challenging time for Royal Jordanian, which has to deal with the fallout of the ongoing Israel-Gaza war.

The conflict has resulted in Royal Jordanian operating flights on considerably higher costs as it is forced to “fly longer routes to avoid the conflict areas”.

However, Mr Majali still encouraged tourism to Jordan, which he described as an “oasis of stability”.

The conflict “obviously hits us very badly … so we've seen some reduction in, in our traffic”, Mr Majali said.

“We're very pleased with this aeroplane. And in this climate of lack of aeroplanes, we are going to also refurbish our 787-8 co-operation with Boeing to be able to extend their life as long as possible before any additional aeroplanes come in the future,” he said.

“Our current 787s are about eight or nine years old, so they're still fairly young and [still] worth investing in. The idea is to bring them up to the 787-9 standards so that we can continue using them.”

Royal Jordanian's order is part of a flurry of deals forged at the Dubai Airshow, as airlines seek to secure coveted delivery slots for the latest fuel-efficient jets amid a post-coronavirus boom in air travel.

Global passenger traffic has rebounded to 97.3 per cent of its pre-pandemic levels in September, driven by record domestic traffic, the International Air Transport Association reported last week.

Dubai's Emirates, the world biggest long-haul carrier, led orders with an order for 95 additional Boeing 777X jets and Boeing 787 Dreamliners valued at $52 billion at list prices.

Royal Jordanian expects a stronger bottom line in 2023, underpinned by a “big” rebound in tourism activity, Mr Majali said.

The airline was “one of the first few airlines post-Covid to actually make a profit”, he said.

In the first nine months of 2023, Royal Jordanian posted a net profit of 10.8 million Jordanian dinars ($15.1 million) on revenue of about 581.5 million dinars.

While a “very small profit”, it was still “positive” – the same outlook the company has for the rest of the year, Mr Majali said.

“We are forecasting the last three months to be also profitable [and we can] increase our profitability.”

Updated: November 13, 2023, 5:53 PM