Jazeera To Grow Airbus A320neo Family Fleet With Dubai Order

Airbus COO Christian Scherer and Jazeera Airways CEO Rohit Ramachandran sign the MoU at Dubai Airshow 2021.
Credit: Karen Walker/ATW

DUBAI—Kuwait-based LCC Jazeera Airways struck a deal with Airbus at the Dubai Airshow Nov. 16 for up to 33 A320neo family narrowbodies.

The MOU, negotiated onsite at the airshow, is for 20 A320neos and eight A321neos with options on five more aircraft. The combined value of the aircraft, including options, totals $3.3 billion at current list prices.

The deal marks a change in strategy for Jazeera, which began operations in 2005 and has always leased its aircraft. The airline has a fleet of 16 A320s currently—eight of them ceos—with a 17th scheduled for delivery in two weeks, Jazeera CEO Rohit Ramachandran said. That 17th aircraft will be the last the airline leases now that it is buying the new batch of narrowbodies direct from Airbus.

Deliveries of the new aircraft are expected to start in 2026 and will grow Jazeera’s fleet to between 30 and 35 aircraft. Anything larger, Ramachandran said, “would be in the realm of science fiction,” adding that he would rather have a fleet that is “half an airplane short than half an airplane over.”

He acknowledged that he would like deliveries to start earlier if slots become available.

Airbus COO and head of international Christian Scherer noted that the signing proved deals do get done at airshows. Ramachandran acknowledged that it was an “opportunistic” deal, but one in line with Jazeera’s growth plans.

The airline’s network comprises destinations in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, which includes the world’s longest nonstop route operated with an A320: Kuwait to London Heathrow.

As the airline grows, Ramachandran cited potential new opportunities in the UK—naming Manchester and Birmingham—as well as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Eurasia.

Ramachandran noted that where borders had re-opened, including in Kuwait, travel demand had returned fast and the company has just reported its best-performing financial quarter ever. He said the 18% fuel reduction efficiency of the neos would be “significant” in the context of today’s high fuel prices.

An engine selection process—between the CFM LEAP and the Pratt & Whitney GTF—will begin soon.

Karen Walker

Karen Walker is Air Transport World Editor-in-Chief and Aviation Week Network Group Air Transport Editor-in-Chief. She joined ATW in 2011 and oversees the editorial content and direction of ATW, Routes and Aviation Week Group air transport content.