Air Arabia orders 49 Airbus A320 aircraft, deal worth $3.5 billion

Air Arabia, the first and largest low-cost carrier (LCC) in the Middle East and North Africa, has announced at the Dubai Air Show, that it has signed an agreement with Airbus for the acquisition of up to 49 A320 aircraft. The deal involves a firm contract for 34 Airbus A320 aircraft, with an option for 15 more.

The deal, valued at $3.5 billion at list prices, will more than triple the size of Air Arabia''s fleet. The Sharjah-based airline is yet to specify the engines to be installed on the new acquisitions.

According to Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al Thani, chairman, Air Arabia, "Our vision is to be one of the world''s leading low-cost carriers in terms of profit margins, innovation, reputation and operational excellence. Having the A320 at the heart of our fleet is the best and quickest way we can achieve this. The aircraft has an outstanding success record throughout the world and is ideal for our needs and those of our customers."

In the first nine month of 2007, the airline served a total of 1,954,982 passengers, an increase of 55 per cent compared to 1,265,528 passengers, during the first nine months in 2006

Adel Ali, board member and chief executive officer of Air Arabia, said "Our performance underlines Air Arabia''s continued growth in the marketplace," said Ali. "In July, we were given permission to list our shares on the Dubai Financial Market and now we are totally set for expansion mode. In four years time, not only we have changed air travel perception in this part of the world, rather we created a unique investment opportunity for our customers to be part of the success story."

Meanwhile, the airline has announced that it will establish its second hub in the Moroccan capital, Rabat, providing the Sharjah-based LCC with a platform from which to expand operations into the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) market.

Air Arabia commenced operations in October 2003 and currently operates a fleet of 10 new Airbus A320 aircraft, serving 37 destinations across the Middle East, North Africa, Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia through its main hub in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.