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SaudiGulf picks Leap for A320neo family fleet

SaudiGulf Airlines' new A320neo family aircraft will be powered by CFM International Leap-1A engines after what chief executive Samer Majali describes as a "tight race" with rival Pratt & Whitney, concluded at the Bahrain air show today.

Earlier in the day, the Dammam-based carrier announced plans to lease and buy up to 40 Airbus A320neo and A321neo aircraft over the next five years, although it said negotiations with engine suppliers were still taking place.

The airline has placed 10 firm orders for the Neo versions of the two narrowbodies, with 10 options, to be delivered from around 2022. In addition, the airline is talking with lessors to acquire a further 20 Neos – around two thirds of them expected to be A321neos – for handover from the end of next year.

Majali confirmed that the leased aircraft would also be Leap-powered.

SaudiGulf's existing fleet of six previous-generation A320s are powered by the Pratt & Whitney-led International Aero Engines V2500s. However, Majali said the lack of commonality with its PW1100G successor meant "it was an entirely new evaluation".

All the engines will be covered by a CFM service contract.

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