Air Arabia considering break from Airbus with new order

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Air Arabia may end its reliance on an all-Airbus fleet by placing a Bombardier CSeries or Boeing 737 Max order to drive fleet expansion after 2016.

Adel Ali, chief executive of the Gulf-based low-cost carrier, tells Flightglobal Pro that the airline is "talking to a number of manufacturers" about potential fleet orders for post-2016/2017, when deliveries of the 44 A320s it has ordered are to have been completed by the European manufacturer.

Unit-cost and capacity comparisons will be important factors in the airline’s choice of new aircraft, says Ali, but the decision will ultimately be based on "the whole package", including fuel efficiency and the price manufacturers are willing to offer. He does not rule out Airbus as a contender for the order.

"There are a number of low-cost carriers out there that are operating a mixed Boeing and Airbus fleet. I do not see why Air Arabia could not be one of them," Ali says, adding that he is considering only narrowbodies for the moment.

Ali does not say how the fleet order would be funded. However, financing has been secured for 10 A320s due to be delivered next year, through a syndicate of five Gulf-based banks.

Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows that Air Arabia currently operates a fleet of 28 A320-200s.