Saudi airline switches to Airbus as Boeing’s Max remains grounded

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A British Airlines Airbus A320

Nicolas Economou | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Saudi Arabian budget airline Flyadeal will operate an all-Airbus fleet after canceling its $5.9 billion provisional order with Boeing for its troubled 737 Max jets.

The airline has instead ordered 30 Airbus A320neo planes for $5.5 billion, marking one of the first carriers to fully switch to Boeing’s French rival as problems with the Max continue.

“This order will result in flyadeal operating an all-Airbus A320 fleet in the future,” Flyadeal announced Sunday.

The airline tentatively committed to buying Boeing’s 737 Max in December — a deal it reconsidered after two fatal crashes killed 346 people and left the jet grounded across the globe.

“Boeing is proud of its seven-decade long partnership with Saudi Arabia’s aviation industry and we wish the flyadeal team well as it builds out its operations. Our team continues to focus on safely returning the 737 Max to service and resuming deliveries of MAX airplanes,” Boeing said in an emailed statement.

Boeing has frozen its Max deliveries for months following the crashes, and now hopes to submit a fix to regulators for review in September. That timeline would get the planes back in the air by the end of the year.

Other Middle Eastern airlines have warned of switching to Airbus if the Max isn’t fixed soon. Oman Air said last month it would hold talks with Airbus if Boeing didn’t provide support and a recovery plan for the Max. Emirati carrier flydubai also said in April it could order A320neos as replacements for the Max jets.

Based in Toulouse, France, Airbus is poised to overtake Boeing this year as the world’s largest plane maker as the U.S. company cuts 737 production volume.

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