Airbus (Static C4, Hall Concorde 17) has announced Saudi Arabian Airlines as its launch customer for the A330-300 Regional with a firm order for 20 of the aircraft plus a firm order for 20 A320ceos.

Saudi Arabian currently operates 12 A330-200s and 50 A320 family aircraft. The airline is growing its domestic and regional network, and the new A330-300 Regional is optimized for high-density regional routes with a capacity for up to 400 passengers on ranges up to 3,000 nm.

The lower-weight A330-300 Regional Airbus is targeted for use on shorter-haul domestic and regional routes where greater capacity is needed. China is seen as a prime market, where it would serve mega-cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou.

The new variant will have a reduced operational weight of around 200 tons, cutting fuel burn and offering savings of up to 15% compared to current variants.

Airbus executives said in May they expected to announce a launch customer at the show.