Saudi, Philippines airlines place big Airbus orders at Paris show

Paris (AFP) –


Saudi Arabian Airlines, the kingdom's national airline, said Tuesday it had ordered 65 A320neo-type aircraft from Airbus, worth more than $7.4 billion at list prices, giving an early boost to the European manufacturer at the Paris Air Show.

The French aerospace bonanza is traditionally a key theatre for rivals Airbus and Boeing to clock up orders, but this year Boeing enters the race handicapped by the fallout from crashes of two of its 737 MAX aircraft that together killed 346 people.

The Saudi airline plans to boost its A320neo fleet to up to 100 aircraft from 35 now.

The deal includes 15 aircraft of the new A321 XLR type, capable of flying distances up to 8,700 kilometres (5,400 miles).

Of the total 65 orders, 35 are still options.

"Passenger demand in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is experiencing strong growth on domestic, regional and international routes. The additional aircraft will be deployed to support the national carrier?s plan to boost capacity," Airbus said in a statement.

Airbus's neo line comprises aircraft with new engines designed to use 15 percent less fuel than the previous generation.

Airbus also signed a letter of intent with low-cost Philippines airline Cebu Pacific to deliver 31 aircraft, of which 16 are A330neos, 10 A321 XLRs and 5 A320neos.

The A321 XLR models are to allow the airline to offer direct flights from the Philippines to India and Australia, Airbus said.