Is Saudi Flynas investing billions in faulty engines for its A320 NEOs?
Flynas, Saudi’s domestic and international low-cost airline, is putting itself on the map and making huge strides to compete with other Middle East airlines.
Flynas boasts carrying 6.4 million passengers in 2017 and operating more than 1,100 flights per week to 17 domestic destinations and 53 international destinations.
The company recently signed a $6.3 billion deal with CFM International, the world’s leading supplier of jet engines for commercial airplanes to acquire new engines for its fleet.
Flynas’ deal is for acquiring LEAP-1A engines for when the fleet of 80 A320-NEO aircraft ordered by Flynas, arrives this year as scheduled.
The deal comes with a long-term services agreement on a pay-by-the-hour basis.
Problems with the new investment?
The new Leap engines are in service with 40 air transport operators as it promises a 15% improvement in fuel efficiency, with an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions, coupled with lower noise and NOx emissions.
However, does Flynas know about these engines’ durability issues?
The durability issue was noticed in early October 2017.
Over 15 months after operations, a flight crew noticed a shift in the exhaust gas temperature margin during a flight.
A borescope inspection revealed the coating of a ceramic matrix composite (CMC) shroud in the high-pressure turbine had started flaking off.
The voids in the coating create a tiny gap for airflow passing through the turbine stage to escape.
The coating was replaced.
However, the Durability of 15 months is nowhere near where a new engine should last, when it is generally accepted that plane engines require major maintenance approximately every 7,300 cycles, or about 3 years.
The Flynas journey
Flynas unveiled a new more modern identity in 2013, and made significant investments in 2014, beefing up its aircraft fleet, introducing a dedicated Business class, and launching new diversified services.
In 2014, Flynas further expanded its partnership portfolio with the signing of an agreement with Airbus to purchase 120 new A320NEO aircraft at a list value of $8.6 billion, which was considered the second most significant deal in the region.
Also, the airline has signed codeshare agreements with Etihad Airways, Pegasus Airlines and Jet Airways, which will further increase the number of operational aircrafts and allow for a broader number of destinations.
Flynas is not the only one who is investing. FlyDubai invested in 8 next-generation Boeings back in 2015 and increased its flight count to more than 1,600 roundtrips.
Last November, Air Arabia leased 6 Airbus A321NEOs, on Day 2 of the Dubai Air Show and since then, according to Reuters, Air Arabia is thinking of buying 100 narrow-body jets to add to their fleet, after posting profits of $180 million in 2017.
Why fly with Flynas?
Good cost/benefit flight
AMEinfo researched the cost of most Saudi based airlines and compared the prices from Riyadh to Dubai.
The apparent cost savings winner was Saudi Arabian Airlines, at almost $40-$50 less than Flynas’ $370 ticket price when comparing similar date periods from April 12 till June 9.
Flight reviews by travelers showed that if you want to get to your destination on time, you would be better off going with Flynas. It was reported to have a 90% on-time departure and arrival success on Tripadvisor.
On the other hand, Saudi Arabian Airlines had about 75% on-time departure and arrival rate, as reported by clients on Skytrax.
Both airlines had reviews that praised the food, service, and seating.