Saudi Arabian order in line with ALAFCO 787 transfer

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Saudi Arabian Airlines' agreement to order eight Boeing 787s, alongside its 12 777-300ERs, appears in line with an original plan to take 12 787-9 aircraft through Kuwaiti lessor ALAFCO.

The airline originally stated in 2008 that it would take 12 787s, with General Electric GEnx engines, and ALAFCO stated in the same year that it had agreed to sell eight 787-9s - and lease four more - to the carrier.

But while an ALAFCO order for 22 787s - all the -8 variant - features on the Boeing backlog, a fleet-modernisation plan on Saudi Arabian's Internet site has not mentioned the 787s, even though it listed the 777-300ERs long before today's order confirmation.

Saudi Arabian's chief, Khalid Al-Molhem, told ATI last month that the carrier was still intending to take the 787s, although he did not give further details on the acquisition.

While it has not specifically stated that ALAFCO will still be the source of the jets, a Boeing statement today notably concentrates on the 777-300ERs, and only briefly mentions that Saudi Arabian has "announced an order" for the 787s - without mentioning variant, or a value - an indication that the 787 deal is not a new agreement.

ALAFCO, which placed its 787 order in 2006-07, had originally intended to deliver four leased 787-9s to Saudi Arabian from 2012 and the eight purchased 787-9s in 2014-15, a deal it valued at $1.6 billion at list prices.