SaudiGulf to take up to 26 CSeries

Bahrain
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Start-up SaudiGulf Airlines has ordered 16 Bombardier CSeries CS300 airliners, with another 10 options, during the Bahrain air show.

SaudiGulf is looking to serve Saudi Arabia with connections between Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah and the country’s secondary airports, as well as other regional destinations.

The order – valued at $1.2 billion for the firm aircraft and $2 billion if all options are taken – is for delivery in 2015 and 2016.

Its 135-seat aircraft will be configured in a premium-economy and first-class layout to the highest luxury CSeries specification so-far ordered, says Bombardier commercial aircraft president Mike Arcamone.

SaudiGulf is the third customer in the region – after Gulf Air and Iraqi Airways – for the CSeries, which is currently undergoing pre-certification flight testing and is expected to enter service in 2014.

Its chief, Samer Majali, says the new airline, a sister company to Saudi Arabian Airlines, would become the “benchmark premium airline” in the region.

SaudiGulf expects to start operations during the early part of 2015, possibly with leased Airbus A320s.

Gulf Air, once led by Majali, has 10 CS100s on order, with six options, but the carrier is keeping its fleet plans close to its chest. At the Bahrain air show the carrier would only reveal that the aircraft, along with several Boeing 787s on order, are likely to be delivered late in the decade.

Under the restructuring the Bahraini flag-carrier has reduced its fleet to 26 aircraft, a mix of A320s and A330s. The carrier still boasts that it serves 35 cities in 22 countries but has dropped many long-haul routes to focus on intra-regional flights.

Iraqi Airways is taking five CS300s and has options on a further 11, following an agreement initially disclosed at the Dubai air show.