Air Arabia’s expansion could see the biggest discount carrier in the Arabian Gulf and North Africa order 100 narrow-body planes worth $11 billion at list prices before the end of the year.
The Sharjah, United Arab Emirates-based airline hasn’t yet reached a decision but the figure is “probably the right number,” chief executive Adel Ali said in an interview on Monday near New Delhi.
Air Arabia currently operates a fleet of 50 Airbus SE A320 jets and is looking at the upgraded Neo version, while also seriously considering Boeing Co.’s rival 737 Max, Ali said. Bombardier Inc.’s C Series plane is also in the running as the carrier moves to renew its fleet after full-year profit jumped 29 percent in 2017 to a record 631 million dirhams ($171m).
"When we look at new plane orders…we'll be looking at both Airbus, Boeing and we're also looking at Embraer. It's work in progress. Our interest is very simple, to get the right level of business and grow it in the right path that a customer needs. We've been looking at ordering planes and we will continue to evaluate, the industry is changing, new technology is coming in, and at the right time we will put an order in," Mr Ali told The National in an interview last August.
The discount carrier is rebounding from a period of overcapacity and lower yields in the Middle East as the low oil price weighed on Gulf economies and concerns about terrorism in North African nations hurt leisure demand.
Air Arabia carried 8.5m people in 2017 and regards 7 per cent growth in passenger numbers this year as easily achievable, Mr Ali told Bloomberg TV last month, identifying Morocco and Egypt as the markets improving fastest.
Existing fleet plans include the deployment of six A321neo planes to be leased from Air Lease Corp. starting in 2019. The carrier has specified long-range variants to help it add new routes.