SAS boosts fleet with 50 Airbus A320neo jets

FILE PHOTO: An Airbus A320neo aircraft is pictured during a news conference to announce a partnership between Airbus and Bombardier on the C Series aircraft programme, in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Scandinavian airline SAS said on Tuesday it will add 50 Airbus A320neo aircraft to bolster its short and medium-haul fleet with deliveries to begin in the first half of next year.

The deal concludes lengthy talks between Airbus and SAS, with a senior executive telling Reuters in January the company expected to finalize the order during the spring after ending negotiations with rival planemaker Boeing.

The carrier said it was buying 35 aircraft and leasing an additional 15 from lessors.

The price for the 35 A320neo aircraft including engines amounted to just below $4 billion before discounts agreed between SAS and Airbus, the airline said, adding it had not yet selected an engine supplier.

A SAS spokesman declined to comment on the final price or the price of leasing.

The leased aircraft are to be delivered by the end of 2021 while the purchased 35 are expected by the end of 2023.

“This order means SAS for the first time will have a single-type fleet by 2023 that consists of the market’s most efficient short- and medium-haul aircraft in terms of cost and environment,” the company said in a statement.

SAS, which is part-owned by Sweden, Norway and Denmark, is renewing an aging, less fuel-efficient fleet in the face of competition from the likes of Norwegian Air Shuttle and Ryanair.

The airline, which already operates 17 Airbus A320neos from a previous order for 30 aircraft, said it had signed letters of intent on leasing the initial 15 aircraft.

Reporting by Niklas Pollard, additional reporting by Olof Swahnberg; editing by Johannes Hellstrom and Jason Neely