Saudi Arabian budget carrier Flyadeal has opted to take up to 50 Airbus A320neo-family jets, having put its previous Boeing 737 Max agreement on hold.
Flyadeal had selected the 737 Max for its fleet-expansion programme, choosing to take 30 737 Max 8s and place options on another 20.
But the order had not been finalised before the worldwide grounding of the Max in March this year, as the re-engined type came under scrutiny following two fatal accidents.
Flyadeal stated, a few days after the grounding, that it would hold off from committing to the Max while the accident investigations were proceeding.
But while the inquiries have yet to reach final conclusions, Flyadeal has disclosed that it is to order 30 A320neos and take options on another 20 – precisely corresponding to the previous Max agreement.
Deliveries of the aircraft will begin in 2021, the airline says. It has not given an engine selection. The 737 Max is powered by CFM International Leap-1B engines, and the CFM56 is fitted to Flyadeal's current fleet consisting of 11 conventional A320s.
Flyadeal does not explicitly mention replacing the 737 Max agreement, but it notably states: "This order will result in Flyadeal operating an all-Airbus A320 fleet in the future."
It adds that it is placing the A320neo order "in response to continuing growth in passenger demand across domestic, regional and international routes".
Flag-carrier Saudia, of which Flyadeal is a spin-off, had revealed during the Paris air show that it was acquiring up to 100 A320neo jets.
These comprised 35 previously-disclosed aircraft, from an order placed three years ago, supplemented by a new order for 30 and options on another 35.
"Allocation of the new aircraft to Flyadeal follows from [the Paris] agreement [with Saudia]," says the budget carrier.