Air Arabia to decide on jet order by January 2020, CEO says

Sharjah's budget airline is considering order for narrow-body aircraft including Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A220

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 28 OCTOBER 2018. Air Arabia’s 15th Anniversary Celebration at the Air Arabia hanger in the Sharjah Cargo Terminal. Launch of the newly outfitted Airbus. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Sarah Townsend. Section: Business.
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Air Arabia, the UAE's only listed airline, expects to make a decision on an order for up to 120 planes by early next year as it continues discussions with both Boeing and Airbus, its chief executive said.

The Sharjah airline is looking at narrow-body models including the Airbus A220 and Boeing 737 Max. It will make a decision before the end of this year or by January 2020, Adel Ali, chief executive of Air Arabia, told an aviation conference in Dubai on Monday.

"We need to make that decision ... we are talking to everybody," Mr Ali said.

Air Arabia, the biggest discount airline in the Arabian Gulf and North Africa, is an all-Airbus operator and the order for new planes would replace and expand its fleet of 54 A320-family aircraft.

The no-frills airline expects to take delivery of its third A321 Neo aircraft on Friday, Mr Ali said.

After expanding to Vienna, Kuala Lumpur and Kyrgyzstan's capital, Bishkek, the airline is eyeing new routes in Europe, Africa and Asia after it has received the new aircraft, he said.

Air Arabia posted a 75 per cent rise in second-quarter profit as it carried more passengers and improved its yield margins.

Net income in the three months ending June 30 reached Dh210 million, compared to Dh120m in the prior year period, despite escalating geopolitical tensions and global economic challenges, Air Arabia said in August. Second-quarter revenue increased by 22 per cent to Dh1.14 billion year-on-year.

The airline carried more than 3 million passengers from its hubs in the UAE, Morocco and Egypt, up 16 per cent from 2.59 million passengers in the same quarter last year. Average load factors – a measure of the number of seats filled – stood at 84 per cent.

The airline currently serves more than 170 destinations in 50 countries from its hubs in Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Morocco and Egypt.