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Orders from the Gulf could mean sale of 121 North Charleston Dreamliners

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Saudi Arabian carriers today announced plans to buy up to 121 of North Charleston’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Riyadh Air is a new company in Saudia Arabia, launching with an order for 39 Dreamliners. (Photo/Provided)The two airlines account for at least 78 aircraft with options that could mean as many as 43 additional Dreamliners, according to a Boeing news release. In total, the carriers today announced their intent to purchase up to 121 Dreamliners in what will be the fifth largest commercial order by value in Boeing's history, according to a news release.

Riyadh Air revealed that the new Saudi Arabian carrier has chosen the 787 Dreamliner to power its global launch and support its goal of “operating one of the most efficient and sustainable fleets in the world,” the company said in the news release.

Riyadh Air said it will purchase 39 of the 787-9s, with options for an additional 33. Based in the capital city, Riyadh Air is owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, the news release said.

This agreement is part of Saudi Arabia's wider strategic plan to transform the country into a global aviation hub, the release said, with a goal of serving 330 million passengers and attracting 100 million visitors annually by 2030.  

"The new airline reflects the ambitious vision of Saudi Arabia to be at the core of shaping the future of global air travel and be a true disrupter in terms of customer experience," Tony Douglas, CEO of Riyadh Air, said in the release.

"Riyadh Air's commitment to its customers will see the integration of digital innovation and authentic Saudi hospitality to deliver a seamless travel experience,” Douglas said in the release. “By positioning the airline as both a global connector and a vehicle to drive tourist and business travel to Saudi Arabia, our new 787-9 airplanes will serve as a foundation for our worldwide operations, as we build the wider network and connect our guests to Saudi Arabia and many destinations around the world.”

Saudia Arabian Airlines' order calls for a mix of 787-9s and 787-10s. (Photo/Provided)Meanwhile, Saudi Arabian Airlines, known as Saudia, announced the national flag-carrier will grow its long-haul fleet with the selection of up to 49 787 Dreamliners. Saudia has agreed to purchase 39 787s, with options for 10 more. The news release said the airline is looking for planes with outstanding efficiency, range and flexibility to sustainably grow its global operation. The agreement will include both 787-9 and 787-10 models.

Related article: United Airlines orders 100 Dreamliners with option for 100 more

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Related article: Overseas airline orders 20 Charleston-based Boeing 787-9s, with option for more

"Saudia continues its expansion efforts in all aspects of the airline; whether it's introducing new destinations or increasing the aircraft fleet," His Excellency Engr. Ibrahim Al-Omar, director general of Saudia Group, said in the release. "The agreement with Boeing delivers on this commitment and the newly added aircraft will further enable Saudia to fulfill its strategic objective of bringing the world to the kingdom.”

Saudia currently operates more than 50 Boeing airplanes on its long-haul network, including the 777-300ER (Extended Range) and 787-9 and 787-10 Dreamliner.

"Adding to its 787 Dreamliner fleet will enable Saudia to expand its long-haul service with outstanding range, capacity and efficiency," Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in the release. "After more than 75 years of partnership, we are honored by Saudia’s confidence in Boeing products and will continue to support Saudi Arabia's goal to expand sustainable air travel."

Although assembly takes part in stages at various sites, the Boeing Dreamliner program is based in North Charleston. The site is home to the 787-8, 787-9 and 787-10 programs.

Reach Ross Norton at 864-720-1222.

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