BEIRUT: Middle East Airlines signed Wednesday a final agreement with leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus to acquire 10 planes for $1 billion in a move aimed at boosting the fleet of the national carrier.
A statement by Airbus said MEA has signed a firm contract for 10 aircraft in the A320neo family – five A321neo and five A320neo aircraft.
“This follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding which was announced on July 12, 2012. MEA will announce its engine choice at a later date,” the statement said.
MEA chairman Mohammad Hout said last year that the company intended to expand its fleet in the future to reach more destinations.
Hout argued that the company had no choice but to expand the fleet even if the profits of the carrier has dwindled over the past two years due the economic slowdown, security chaos, drop in the number of tourists and turmoil in Syria.
“Airbus’ A320neo Family is the ideal choice for an airline such as Middle East Airlines,” the chairman said in a statement.
He added that aircraft offering fuel burn savings, high reliability and a comfortable, modern cabin are a sound investment in anyone’s books.
The statement said that MEA operates one of the most modern fleets in the Middle East region with four A330-200s, four A321s and 10 A320s.
The A320neo “new engine option” for the A320 family will enter into service from late 2015. It incorporates latest-generation engines and large Sharklet wing-tip devices, which together will deliver up to 15 percent in fuel savings which is equivalent to 1.4 million liters of fuel – the consumption of 1,000 mid-size cars – saving 3,600 tons of C02 per aircraft per year. With more than 1,600 firm orders since its launch in 2010, the A320neo family has proven to be the fastest selling commercial aircraft program ever.
The A320 family is the world’s best-selling and most modern single-aisle aircraft family. To date, close to 8,900 aircraft have been ordered and over 5,300 delivered to more than 380 customers and operators worldwide.