Saudi airline goes all in on Airbus as Boeing struggles

Airline had been on course to buy dozens of Boeing

By Danielle Wiener-Bronner, CNN Business
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

(CNN) - Saudi Arabian airline flyadeal said on Sunday that it will fly an all-Airbus fleet, changing course from a plan to buy up to 50 of Boeing's embattled 737 Max planes.

The move is another blow to Boeing, which has struggled to regain trust after its 737 Max jets were involved in two fatal crashes. The planes have been grounded worldwide, deliveries of the plane have halted, airlines have said they will demand compensation, and in March the plane maker lost a major order because of the tragedies.

Flyadeal didn't mention Boeing or the crashes in its statement on Sunday, saying that it was announcing a "a significant growth to its fleet" with an order of up to 50 A320 Neo airplanes from Boeing's rival, Airbus. Flyadeal said the deal was struck between its parent company, Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation, and Airbus during the Paris Air Show in June.

"This order will result in flyadeal operating an all- Airbus A320 fleet in the future," the statement continued. Flyadeal could not immediately be reached for further comment.

The announcement marks a departure from an earlier plan. In December, Boeing and flyadeal announced that the Saudi airliner had committed to buying between 30 to 50 737 Max jets in a deal that could be worth up to $5.9 billion at list price.

"We wish the flyadeal team well as it builds out its operations," a Boeing spokesperson said on Sunday adding that "our team continues to focus on safely returning the 737 MAX to service and resuming deliveries of MAX airplanes."

Earlier this year, Indonesian airline Garuda canceled a multibillion-dollar order for 737 Max 8 jets. "Our passengers have lost confidence to fly with the Max 8," Garuda spokesperson Ikhsan Rosan told CNN in March.

It's not clear when the grounded passenger jets will start flying again, but it's likely that Boeing's crisis will extend into next year.

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