Dubai Airshow: Jazeera doubles fleet with $3.3 billion order

Kuwaiti low-cost carrier, Jazeera Airways, will almost double its fleet in the second half of this decade, after it signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for 28 A32neo family aircraft at the show yesterday.

The airline currently operates 16 leased A320s, split equally between ceo and neo models. A 17th neo will arrive in two weeks.

Yesterday’s MoU, for 20 A320neo, eight A321neo, plus purchase options for a further five unspecified examples, will also mark a move by the airline to buy its aircraft. The order value, including options, is in excess of $3.3 billion at list prices.

Some of the new aircraft – which will be delivered from 2026-2028 – will replace existing A320ceos as they come off lease.

Jazeera CEO, Rohit Ramachandran, described the deal as  a “realistic, modest order”. Ramachandran, who has often talked about over-capacity in the region – especially in the Kuwaiti market, where he has accused rivals of dumping seats – said his company had shown it could compete with others, “but we also need to invest in ourselves”.

He added that he foresaw a “mature” Jazeera as having a fleet of around 30-35 aircraft. “We believe that’s a reasonable and digestible size for a base carrier in Kuwait. Anything more, I believe would be in the realm of science fiction.”

Despite Kuwait having closed its international/borders for a lengthy period during the pandemic, Jazeera had not only continued to operate but had opened nine new routes over the past 20 months, said Ramachandran.

He identified future growth opportunities: “We have a lot of low-hanging fruit in terms of the network within this region. We’d really like to expand within Saudi Arabia. In the next 12 months, we’ll have five more routes [there] beyond our existing five.” Iran and the CIS nations were also targets for expansion, he said.