MAXed out in the Middle East

As almost 400 orders for the Boeing 737 MAX have been placed on hold in the Middle East, regional operators are now calling for a solution to be found as soon as possible.

Saudi Arabia’s Flyadeal was the first major regional LCC to cancel its order, for 30 737 MAX-8s, in July, after parent Saudi Arabian Airlines increased its order for Airbus aircraft to 100, including Flyadeal A320neos, in June.

Having signed for 225 Boeing 737 Max aircraft in a deal worth $27 billion in 2017, Flydubai, the Middle East’s biggest 737 operator, has been significantly impacted by the grounding of the type. It lost a reported $53.6 million in the first half of 2019, 38% down on the previous first half of last year. While revenues remained stable, passengers numbers dropped 7.5% to five million.

“Without any deliveries of new aircraft and no visible timeline, we will see our operating fleet reduce in size to what it was in 2014,” said Flydubai CEO, Ghaith Al Ghaith. “This is disappointing. If the grounding continues until the end of the year, we expect our performance to continue to be impacted.”

However, Adel Ali, CEO of UAE-based Air Arabia, confirmed to AIN in October the company wished to proceed with its order for 100 new aircraft within the next 12 months and could choose either the Boeing MAX or the A320 family. To date, Air Arabia, has operated an Airbus-only fleet, as like Saudi LCC, Flynas.

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