Bombardier Inc. won an order for 16 CSeries jets plus 10 options from Saudi Arabia’s Al Qahtani Group, which plans to deploy the aircraft at full-service startup carrier Saudi Gulf.
Al Qahtani’s order, worth $2 billion at list price with the options, is for the larger CS300 version of the narrowbody plane, which seats from 135 to 160 people and competes with the Airbus Group A319 and versions of Boeing Co.’s 737.
Saudi Gulf will start flying in late 2015 or early 2016, Al Qahtani said in a joint press conference with Bombardier at the Bahrain Air Show. It will serve domestic cities including Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, plus locations in the Gulf and as far afield as Pakistan within three or four hours flying time.
With deliveries of the new jets slated to start only around the time that Saudi Gulf commences servies, Al Qahtani is in talks with leasing companies as it seeks half a dozen Boeing or Airbus jets to be taken within 12 months as a stopgap, Samer Majali, the group’s president, said today.
Majali was previously chief executive officer of Bahrain-based Gulf Air for about three years until 2012, when he resigned following the appointment of a new board at the unprofitable carrier. Before that he was CEO at Royal Jordanian Airlines for about seven years.
Today’s order takes the CSeries backlog to almost 200 jets as Montreal-based Bombardier seeks to end the Boeing-Airbus duopoly in the short-haul airliner market.