Wednesday, March 29, 2023

What to know about FedEx moving a plane maintenance station to Indy

FedEx is moving an aircraft maintenance station in Los Angeles to Indianapolis in 2024 as a part of a cost-cutting measure, the company announced earlier this month.The decision was made as the facility in Los Angeles nears the end of its lease. Last year, FedEx announced it would cut 179 jobs in the Indianapolis area after closing its supply chain management facility. In February, the company announced it would lay off 10% of its corporate workforce due to reduced demand.

How many jobs will this bring?

FedEx didn't say how many people it would hire to work at the maintenance facility. While the company is not hiring now, a spokesperson noted that its aviation maintenance workers serve 108 locations in the country. These technical jobs that trouble shoot, service and repair planes, require a high school diploma or GED as well as relevant licenses and experience, except those in apprentice positions.

FedEx advertised starting pay to be as high as $41/hour.

How will this affect customers?

FedEx said customers won't be affected and that only the facility that maintains, repairs and inspect airplanes is moving out of Los Angeles, but the rest of its operations in the city will remain.

Where will this facility be?

FedEx said it's relocating to its Indianapolis hub. It's unclear where the maintenance facility will be located or if the Indianapolis airport will be affected.



DHL (Operated by iAero Airways) Boeing 737-86J(BDSF)(WL) (30498/450) N916SC

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Captured on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) as "SWQ181" arriving from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX/KPHX) January 30, 2022.
First Flight: December 7, 1999 as N1787B.
Delivered: December 22, 1999 to Air Berlin D-ABAV.
Converted to 737-86J(BDSF)(WL) in 2017.
Delivered to iAero Airways May 2, 2020 and operated for DHL.

FedEx MD-11(F) (48500/493) N575FE "Sooni"

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Captured climbing from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 15, 2018.
This lovely aircraft was recently retired and ferried Memphis International Airport (MEM/KMEM) - Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV/KVCV) as "FDX9032" and STD March 27, 2023.


Monday, March 27, 2023

Airbus A321XLR Completes Cold Weather Trials

The Airbus A321XLR has concluded two sets of cold weather tests in Canada’s Nunavut territory as the manufacturer progresses toward certification of the aircraft in time for entry-into-service in the second quarter (Q2) of 2024.

Two of the three active flight test vehicles (FTVs)—MSN11058 (FTV2) and, most recently, MSN11080 (FTV3)—involved in the program were sent to Iqaluit, Canada, for cold weather tests over the past few weeks. FTV2 is the only Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-powered aircraft participating in the trials. FTV3 has a full passenger cabin and will also be used for function and reliability testing on long-haul flights toward the end of the program.

Iqaluit is a favorite spot for Airbus cold weather trials and has previously been used in other programs such as the A320neo, the A350-900/-1000, the A380, A340-600 and A400m. Iqaluit has a 3,000 m (1.9 mi.) runway and, in addition to being used for scheduled services, is also used as an alternate airport for transatlantic flights.

The latest test phase involving FTV3 focused on the water and waste system, which is different on the XLR from the earlier A321neo versions. Given that the XLR will be used on longer routes, both the fresh water and waste tanks had to be enlarged and some pipes and pumps modified.

According to Flight Test Engineer Jim Fawcett, the aircraft was cold-soaked four times in different configurations. The aircraft was left unpowered overnight, once with the doors open. The next morning, the auxiliary power unit (APU) was started for the aircraft to slowly warm up. Airbus technicians monitored the process observing whether any damage had occurred and whether ice build-ups melted as planned. Hot air ground equipment was also used for the outside. Fawcett said no flaws have been discovered. 

Airbus also simulated a turn-around of the aircraft at a cold airport without actually flying it by opening the cabin and cargo doors and draining the water tanks.

The company declined to discuss current flight hours and cycles for the test fleet. The A321XLR is planned to enter service in 2024 Q2. 

One key element of the certification campaign is flammability protection for the new rear center tank. European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Executive Director Patrick Ky told Aviation Week in a recent interview that “We spent a lot of time on this and had a very controversial discussion with Airbus about it.” However, “we found a good way to work together with the FAA and Airbus. We are converging on a common understanding of what is a suitable design of the RCT in terms of safety and flammability, and how we can move forward on the certification of the XLR.”

(Jens Flottau - Aviation Week)



FAA Issues AD For 737 MAX Loose Fastener Checks

The U.S. FAA has issued an immediate airworthiness directive (AD) calling for inspections of inlets on a batch of CFM Leap-1Bs powering Boeing 737-8s, -8200s and -9s for mis-installed fasteners around the engine anti-ice (EAI) exhaust duct.

The FAA AD, which applies to around 330 U.S.-registered 737s, addresses a potentially unsafe condition which could occur if loose or missing fasteners allow high temperature bleed air from the EAI exhaust duct to leak into the inlet composite inner barrel. Should this occur, the AD says the heat could compromise the inlet’s structural integrity, eventually leading to separation of the inlet and fan cowl under normal flight loads.

The AD was issued following the discovery by flight crew during a pre-flight check of a bolt protruding through a drain hole at the engine inlet near the EAI exhaust vent. Investigations by Boeing revealed that some fasteners for the exhaust ducts were installed at the factory with inadequate torque using a prohibited yoke-style torque wrench adapter.

The FAA says the use of this adapter will “produce a significant under-torque of the installed fasteners. Inadequately torqued fasteners may loosen over time due to engine vibration, eventually causing the fastener to drop into the inlet inner barrel.”

The EAI system injects hot bleed air from the engine into the interior of the inlet lip to prevent the formation of icing on the exterior of the inlet lip. The high temperature air then exits the rear of the inlet lip through the EAI exhaust duct, which passes through the inlet inner barrel prior to exhausting air overboard. However, should a leak occur, the composite inlet inner barrel structure is susceptible to heat damage, the FAA says.  

Problems could be caused in one of two ways, the agency says. Loose or missing fasteners for the EAI exhaust duct could allow the exhaust duct to vibrate excessively, which, when combined with the redistribution of structural loads onto the other fasteners, may lead to fatigue cracking of the duct which would ultimately progress to a rupture. Alternatively, the loose or missing fasteners may allow EAI exhaust air to escape and impinge directly on the inner barrel structure.

(Guy Norris - Aviation Week)

United Airlines 787-8 (34830/117) N29907

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Makes a quick right turn as she climbs from Rwy 17 at Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV/KVCV) as "UA2751" bound for Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD/KIAD) March 26, 2023 following a visit to the Boeing facilities at the former George Air Force Base.
First Flight: July 10, 2013.
Delivered: July 31, 2013.


Flybondi Boeing 737-8Q8(WL) (30703/1964) LV-KAH

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Climbs from Rwy 17 at Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV/KVCV) bound for José Joaquín de Olmedo International Airport (GYE/SEGU) as "FBZ2501" March 26, 2023.
She may have been at (VCV/KVCV) for inspection and repairs as she experienced a lightning strike at Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE/SAEZ) on January 17, 2023.
First Flight: May 26, 2006.
Delivered: June 13, 2006 to Excel Airways G-XLAJ.
She has served with a number of airlines over the years, to many to list here.
To Flybondi as LV-KAH July 14, 2021.


Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-251(WL) (26498/971) N551NW

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Appears to be close to returning to service following three years of storage at Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV/KVCV) as she has been all cleaned up and looking very smart as she rests in the morning sun of the Mojave Desert March 26, 2023.
First Flight: June 19, 2001.
Delivered: July 2, 2001 to Northwest Airlines as N551NW.
To Delta Air Lines October 29, 2008.
WFU and STD at (VCV/KVCV) March 22, 2020.


Alaska Airlines Airbus A320-214 (c/n 5058) N854VA

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Now sits all wrapped up at Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV/KVCV) as she awaits to see what her future brings, March 26, 2023.
First Flight: March 2, 2012 as F-WWBG.
Delivered: March 20, 2012 to Virgin America as N854VA "Stand Up Flyer"
WFU and STD at (GSO/KGSO) March 21, 2020 - December 11, 2020.
Sported the "Fly With Pride" special Livery (June 2021 - November 2022).
Last Revenue Flight (LRF) (SEA/KSEA) - (SNA/KSNA) as "AS672" November 30, 2022 then WFU.
Ferried (SNA/KSNA) - (VCV/KVCV) as "AS9803" December 1, 2022 and STD.


Sunday, March 26, 2023

FedEx Airbus A300F4-605R (c/n 772) N668FE "Ramsay"

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Seen sitting in retirement and enjoying a cold sunny morning in the Mojave Desert at Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV/KVCV) March 26, 2023.
First Flight: May 5, 1996 as F-WWAP.
Delivered: May 24, 1996 as N668FE "Tianna" renamed "Ramsay" in 2016.
Last revenue flight (GRR/KGRR) - (MEM/KMEM) as "FDX651" February 21, 2023 the WFU.
Ferried (MEM/KMEM) - (VCV/KVCV) as "FDX9030" February 21, 2023 and STD.


FedEx McDonnell Douglas MD-10-30(F) (48287/409) N306FE "John"

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Rests in the morning sun of the Mojave Desert at Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV/KVCV) March 26, 2023.
First Flight: November 6, 1985.
Delivered: January 24, 1986 to Federal Express as DC-10-30(F) "John Peter Jr." 
Converted to an MD-10-30(F) in 1994.
WFU December 31, 2022.
Ferried (MEM/KMEM) - (VCV/KVCV) as "FDX9030" February 22, 2023 and STD.


GOL Transportes Aeros Boeing 737-8EH(BCF)(WL) (34275/2588) PR-GGD

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Climbs from Rwy 17 at Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV/KVCV) as "GLO9676" March 26, 2023 bound for Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO/MROC) as she makes her way back to Brazil following freighter conversion at Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG/ZSPD).
First Flight: April 10, 2008 as N1786B.
Delivered: April 24, 2008 to GOL Transportes Aeros as PR-GGD.


Friday, March 24, 2023

Japan Airlines and Boeing reach deal for 21 737 MAX jets

Japan Airlines has placed its first-ever order for the Boeing 737 MAX, announcing a plan on Thursday to buy 21 jets to replenish its narrow-body fleet.

The deal is worth at least $2.5 billion at list prices, Reuters previously reported, and notches a win for Boeing against European rival Airbus, which was in talks with JAL on the bestselling A320neo narrow-body jet.

JAL President Yuji Akasaka told reporters the company intended to bring the new planes into its fleet from 2026. The range and fuel efficiency of the 737 MAX will reduce carbon emissions by 15% compared to the planes they are replacing, he said.

"I believe this is a very high potential aircraft," Akasaka said.

Reuters reported details of the deal on Wednesday, citing industry sources.

The JAL order ensures a foothold for the MAX with Japan's flagship carrier as Boeing strives to undermine Airbus's lead in the narrow-body market.

"One problem that has hobbled the (737 MAX) program is that despite good orders, there haven't been as many high profile users. This certainly helps a lot," said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with AeroDynamic Advisories.

Although JAL predominantly operates Boeing planes, it delivered a shock to the aircraft industry in 2013 when it opted to buy Airbus's A350 wide-body aircraft over the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which at the time was struggling to correct technical problems.

While JAL's current fleet of 48 Dreamliners now dwarfs the 11 A350s owned by the carrier, the initial Airbus order raised questions about whether Boeing would continue to dominate the Japanese market.

Those concerns were heightened by the 737 MAX crisis, which led All Nippon Airways (ANA) to delay finalizing an order for 20 MAXs first announced in January 2019. ANA and Boeing concluded the MAX deal in July.

The Boeing 737-800 currently makes up the largest portion of JAL's narrow-body fleet, with the carrier owning 47 jets and leasing another 17 737s, according to JAL.

However, Airbus has gained traction in Japan's narrow-body market, with ANA's low-cost Peach unit operating A320s and JAL's Jetstar Japan flying leased A320s.

"It's a battle, keeping Japan," Aboulafia said. Boeing "seems to have scored a victory here."


(Valerie Insinna in Washington, Rocky Swift and Maki Shiraki in Tokyo - Reuters)


Saturday, March 18, 2023

STARLUX Airlines Launches First Transpacific Flight to Los Angeles


STARLUX Airlines, a Taiwan-based luxury carrier, announced the launch of its inaugural Taipei-Los Angeles transpacific flight debuting on April 26. Initially starting with five weekly flights, the service is expected to ramp to daily in June. STARLUX also announced the establishment of its first US office based in Los Angeles and its new designation as the “Official International Airline Partner of the LA Clippers” as part of a multi-year partnership with the NBA team.

With eyes to the skies and “luxury” embedded in its brand, STARLUX strives to achieve the highest standards in operations, service, safety, and management. The airline operates the TPE-LAX route with its new-generation Airbus A350 configured in a premium four-class layout, with four seats in First, 26 in Business, 36 in Premium Economy, and 240 in Economy.

Travelers in First and Business will have a cozy private space with a sliding door and seats with full-flat and Zero G mode for full relaxation. The extra-legroom Premium Economy section features a 40-inch Recaro seat with a leg rest and footrest bar. Economy Class seats are also built for utmost comfort, equipped with leather headrests and wide seat pitch. In addition, the A350 offers nose-to-tail seatback entertainment featuring 4K personal large screens.

The Clippers are an innovative global brand with an international fan base and reach, and STARLUX is the latest international company to join Clipper Nation. In addition to in-arena activations and hospitality elements in Los Angeles, STARLUX’s partnership with the Clippers includes international rights through the NBA’s international team marketing program. The airline will activate in-flight branding, international sweepstakes, and other digital and in-person activations featuring Clippers elements and personalities.

Starting June 1, Clippers-themed amenities will be provided on STARLUX TPE-LAX flights, such as themed meal packaging including paper placemats, napkins, towelettes, inflight meal foil covers, mini food flags, burger wrapping paper, and kids meal boxes. Other niceties include playing cards, eye masks, paper cups, stirrers, rice cracker packages, luggage tags, boarding passes, and stickers will be distributed at check-in.

Airline ticket reservations for departures from April 26, 2023, onward can now be booked through travel agents and on Flights will depart Los Angeles for Taipei on Tuesday and Thursday through Sunday at 00:50 hours. Flights will depart Taipei for Los Angeles on Monday and Wednesday through Saturday at 23:40 hours.

 (Sana Khan - Jetline Marvel)

Friday, March 17, 2023

Flair Airlines Boeing 737-8 Max (61803/7633) C-FLDX

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Taxies to parking following her arrival at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) from Vancouver International Airport (YVR/CYVR) as "FLE1888" January 27, 2023.
First Flight: July 13, 2019.
Delivered: September 28, 2022.

American Airlines Boeing 787-9 (40645/635) N833AA

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Makes her escape from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) November 9, 2020.
First Flight: November 28, 2017.
Delivered: December 5, 2017.


Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit in Long Beach furloughs most of its staff as it seeks funding

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)

British billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit has paused operations as the rocket-launch company searches for more funding.

The Long Beach company announced the operational pause Wednesday and it went into effect Thursday. As part of the move, Virgin Orbit has furloughed most of its nearly 700 employees. Those employees will continue to have benefits during this time, according to a person familiar with the matter who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

The company expects the pause to continue through Tuesday, according to a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The operational pause will allow Virgin Orbit to save money while company executives meet with “potential funding sources” and explore “strategic opportunities,” according to the document.

The company is looking at updating employees on the situation sometime next week, according to the source.

Founded in 2017 as an offshoot of Branson’s spacecraft manufacturing and space-tourism companies, Virgin Orbit launches satellites via a rocket that blasts off from beneath the wing of a modified Boeing 747 jetliner.

The company has had four successful launches so far and counts small-satellite firm Spire Global and the U.S. Space Force, among others, as customers.

Analysts and industry experts have long expected the competitive and crowded small-satellite launch business to shake out weaker players. Now with interest rate increases and the overall economic climate, that shake-up could be happening, although a bit prematurely, said Greg Autry, director of space leadership, policy and business at the Arizona State University Thunderbird School of Global Management.

“It’s just not a good time to raise another funding round, and clearly they needed one,” he said of Virgin Orbit. “It’s hard to finance these capital-intensive projects.”

However, the company’s unique air-launch capability and the strong demand among commercial and military customers for satellite launches give Autry confidence that Virgin Orbit will survive.

“The technology works, and there’s a market for it,” he said.

That air-launch capability allows Virgin Orbit to launch from just about anywhere with a runway. The company’s competitors mostly rely on traditional launch pads.

The company launched its first demonstration mission in 2020, but it had a launch failure earlier this year when the rocket’s upper stage shut down prematurely. The failure resulted in the loss of nine satellites.

Virgin Orbit said in a statement Thursday that its investigation of the incident is “nearly complete” and that it is in the final stages of testing the newly modified rocket.

The company reported revenue of $30.9 million and a net loss of $43.6 million in the third quarter of 2022, compared with no revenue and a $38.6-million loss a year earlier.

In a November quarterly earnings call, Chief Financial Officer Brita O’Rear told analysts that the company had “strong backing” from current shareholders, including a $25-million convertible investment from Virgin Investments, which is part of Branson’s Virgin Group. The company finished the third quarter with cash and cash equivalents of just over $71 million, she said.

“We will be opportunistic in the capital markets to fund our growth,” she said during the call.

Shares of Virgin Orbit fell 29.7% to 71 cents Thursday. The stock has been in steady decline since December 2021, when it debuted at $10 a share.

Samantha Masunaga - Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

American Airlines Boeing 737-823(WL) (31196/4951) N952NN

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) as "AA1052" bound for Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD/KORD) March 6, 2023.
First Flight: May 30, 2014 as N1786B.
Delivered: June 13, 2014.


ZIPAIR Boeing 787-8 (34832/23) JA822J

(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)
Climbs from 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) as "TZP23" bound for Tokyo-Narita International Airport (NRT/RJAA) March 6, 2023.
First Flight: March 1, 2011 as N1003W.
Delivered: March 26, 2011 to Japan Air Lines (JAL) JA822J.
To ZIPAIR October 15, 2019.


Boeing nabs order for 78 787 Dreamliners from two Saudi airlines

Two Saudi Arabian airlines announced plans on Tuesday to order a combined 78 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a big win for Boeing that marks the fifth largest commercial order by value in its history.

State-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) and new national airline Riyadh Air will each buy 39 wide-body 787s from the U.S.-based planemaker.

The deal contains options for 10 additional Dreamliners for Saudia and 33 for Riyadh Air. Reuters reported details of the planned order on Monday, citing sources.

The list prices for 78 planes would total nearly $37 billion, Reuters previously reported.

Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said the order showed the huge demand for wide-body airplanes around the world as tourism continues to rebound, and is the latest in a series of big 787 orders.

"It's like the biggest I've ever seen," Calhoun said of 787 demand. "The world wants to connect in this post-COVID moment."

Calhoun said the planemaker was standing by its 787 production guidance announced in November, which calls for Boeing to ramp up to 10 787s by the 2025-2026 timeframe.

All customers, "specifically Riyadh Air, are all built into that schedule", Calhoun said. "We have a lot of confidence that we can meet it and that was an important part of this deal."

The Federal Aviation Administration on Friday approved Boeing's plan to resume deliveries of the 787. Boeing shares were up 3.6% in early trading.

The company's clean sweep of the lucrative wide-body order is a blow for European rival Airbus which as recently as late last year had been expected to secure at least part of the deal. Saudia currently operates both Airbus and Boeing jets.

Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at AeroDynamic Advisories, said Boeing’s success in capturing the entire order could partially be due to "a greater U.S. presence in the region -- politically, diplomatically, economically".

He added however that "it's also quite likely that the 787 is just closer to their requirements right now".

In particular, the 787 allows for a more flexible route network, as it’s smaller than the A350 but with equivalent range. "That’s probably a big factor in it," Aboulafia said.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced on Sunday the creation of new national airline Riyadh Air, with industry veteran Tony Douglas as its chief executive, as the kingdom moves to compete with regional travel hubs.

"We've got a blank sheet of paper," Douglas told Reuters on Tuesday.

Riyadh Air is wholly owned by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which has more than $600 billion in assets and is the main driver of the kingdom's efforts to wean itself off oil.

The airline will serve more than 100 destinations around the world by 2030 and will directly compete against Emirates and Qatar Airways.

(David Shepardson, Valerie Insinna and Tim Hepher - Reuters)

Southwest eyes rival United's service provider to bolster its operations

Southwest Airlines Co is tapping a software company called SureWeather, which rival United Airlines employs, to make its winter operations more resilient, Chief Operating Officer Andrew Watterson told Reuters on Tuesday.

The Dallas-based carrier has been under fire ever since it suffered an operational disruption that resulted in almost 17,000 flight cancellations around the Christmas holiday last year, disrupting travel plans for two million customers.

SureWeather helps airlines calculate the time between de-icing of an aircraft and its take-off.

Watterson said the software helped United recover, particularly in Denver, from a winter storm in December last year.

"We are contracting with them right now. So, by next winter weather we will have that tool," he said in an interview.

The airline has developed a three-part plan with inputs from aviation consultancy Oliver Wyman, which was hired to investigate the disruption, to bolster its operations during the winter season.

Watterson said Oliver Wyman has wrapped up its investigation and the company is working on some additional measures, which are expected to be completed by the end of this month.

(Rajesh Kumar Singh - Reuters)

Monday, March 13, 2023

Singapore Airlines 777-312(ER) (34582/716) 9V-SWQ

Departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on a gorgeous SoCal winter morning January 18, 2018.
First Flight: April 24, 2008.
Delivered: April 30, 2008.
(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Qantas Boeing 747-438(ER) (32913/1330) VH-OEI "Ceduna"


Climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on a gorgeous SoCal winter morning December 29, 2017.
First Flight: June 18, 2003.
Delivered: June 26, 2003.
Wore "Go Wallabies" special markings (September 2019 - January 2020).
WFU and STD at (SYD/YSSY) March 27, 2020 - June 2, 2020.
Ferried (SYD/YSSY) - (LAX/KLAX) - (MHV/KMHV) June 3 -4. 2020 and STD.
(Photo by Michael Carter / Aero Pacific Images)

Saudi Arabia Announces New Airline and Possibly a Big Deal with Boeing

On Sunday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced Saudi Arabia will launch a new state-run airline called Riyadh Air, and The Wall Street Journal reported the carrier will likely purchase a large order of Boeing jets.

Air Riyadh

The Middle Eastern nation already has another government-run airline – Saudia, which was founded in 1945 and travels to over 90 destinations across Asia, Europe, Africa, and North America. And it's not entirely clear why it needs a second, but party on! The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund says the new carrier is a way to diversify the nation's economy beyond its robust oil industry and enable "Riyadh to become a gateway to the world and a global destination for transportation, trade, and tourism."

For months, Boeing and Airbus have been competing for a deal with the Middle Eastern nation, the WSJ reported. But now it looks like the Saudi PIF has finally made a decision:

  • The PIF is expected to spend $35 billion on roughly 100 or more Boeing planes, including wide-body jets fitted for international travel. News of the deal comes shortly after Air India made the largest airplane purchase in history: 470 jets from Boeing and Airbus for roughly $85 billion.
  • To make a splash, the PIF also tapped Tony Douglas, who was the CEO of the United Arab Emirate's state-run airline for the past five years, to run Riyadh Air.

Why Can't We Be Friends: If the deal with the US-based plane maker materializes, it'd be another signifier of easing tensions between America and Saudi Arabia. In January, the Biden administration announced they were no longer pursuing plans to retaliate against Saudi Arabia for cutting its oil production by 2 million barrels per day. Plus, the Saudis are now looking to ease tensions and reopen communications with Iran, after a round of peace talks orchestrated by China.

 (The Motley Fool)