Flynas Plans New Base, Adds Color To A321XLR Plans

Saudi Arabian LCC flynas is planning to add another base in 2023 and is looking at further network expansion, including route development opportunities for its incoming Airbus A321XLRs.

Flynas currently operates 44 A320-family aircraft on its scheduled network, along with four A330s which are used for religious pilgrimages. However, the airline recently detailed ambitious plans to grow its fleet to 250 aircraft over the next few years. The fleet mix will include at least 10 A321XLRs.

“The XLR will come later on in the decade, and that will allow us to go a bit further still, such as Ireland, maybe Helsinki (Finland) and northern UK. It will also get further into Asia,” flynas Vice-President of Network Planning and Scheduling Ben Burge told delegates at Routes Europe 2023 in Lodz, Poland.

“We don’t know exactly when that [A321XLR] delivery will be. I believe our friends at Wizz Air are the launch customers, and they’re hoping at some point in the middle of the decade.”

Flynas has three main bases—at Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam—underpinning its network of 120 routes across 27 countries. Burge said flynas is planning to add another base later in 2023, following its recent growth into the Balkans, France and Central and Eastern Europe.

This year, flynas has already launched 15 new routes, building on 30 route launches in 2022. However, Burge said flynas is being impacted by aircraft delivery delays. “Some of the aircraft we are planning are not coming through as quickly as we’d wish, so sometimes we’ll delay new routes that we want to start,” he noted.

Separately, the airline is launching a request for proposal (RFP) through Routes 360, inviting airports to pitch for new routes across the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. “We’ve got a track record of us moving outward to the northeast, and we’re constantly looking for further opportunities that would fit,” Burge said.

Flynas’ current route-development catchment area includes Europe to the southern UK and Portugal, the Commonwealth Independent States and West Asia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, North and Central/East Africa and the Indian Ocean islands.

In 2022, flynas carried almost 8.7 million passengers, putting it 15% ahead of 2019. During Q1 2023, passenger numbers totaled 2.4 million, representing a rise of some 26% compared with the same period in 2022.

The flynas expansion plans form part of Saudi Arabia’s growth strategy, which aims to boost the market to 330 million passengers by 2030.

“You’re basically talking about three times growth from the back end of 2019—10% [compound annual growth rate] is a good rate,” Burge said. “We want to be the leading LCC in [the Middle East and North Africa] by 2030.”

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