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flynas to buy Airbus aircraft worth $8.6 billion
January 12, 2017
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DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s flynas has struck a deal with Airbus to buy planes worth $8.6 billion, Kingdom Holding, which owns 34.1 per cent of the budget carrier, said on Wednesday.

Airbus finalised a deal to sell more than 60 jets to flynas, industry sources told Reuters on Tuesday, with one adding that the order was expected to cover more than 60 A320neo narrow body planes.

Kingdom Holding, the investment firm owned by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, did not specify how many or which model of aircraft flynas had purchased, but it added that the first batch will be received early in 2018. Meanwhile, Airbus delivered a record number of planes last year despite engine and cabin production problems, even as new orders slumped for both the European manufacturer and its US rival Boeing.

An unlikely customer provided a big boost to the industry in 2016: Iran, scheduled to receive its first Airbus plane in years Wednesday as part of a multibillion-dollar deal made possible by a hard-fought nuclear agreement.

Airbus executives played down concerns that the industry is facing a downturn after a long-running buying spree by Mideast and Asian carriers, but refused to issue forecasts for this year. China’s slowdown and volatile fuel prices threaten to weigh on aircraft orders.

Airbus announced Wednesday that it delivered 688 planes over the year, primarily in the single-aisle A320 family, compared with 635 in 2015 and above the company’s own expectations.

Airbus increased deliveries of its long-delayed A350 wide-body to 49 overall. The A320 range dominated Airbus sales last year, when it won 731 net orders compared with 1,036 the year before. Boeing says it delivered 748 planes in 2016 and took in 668 net orders, down from 768 orders in 2015.

“I’m confident that we’ll have a new record in deliveries” in 2017, Airbus commercial planes sales chief John Leahy said Wednesday in Toulouse. However, he added, “That doesn’t mean that orders are going to be strong.”

Fabrice Bregier, president of Airbus commercial planes, said that the first half of 2016 was “unusually difficult from a production perspective” but the company managed to speed up output by the end of the year after suppliers fixed problems with engines and cabin equipment.

Agencies

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