Saudi 400XP deal boosts Hawker sales
Hawker Beechcraft yesterday inked a deal with Saudi Arabia Airlines for six Hawker 400XP twinjets worth a combined total of about $50 million. Scheduled for delivery next year, the airplanes will join the carrier’s Saudia Private Aviation fleet.The Middle East continues to be a bright spot for Hawker Beechcraft in the face of recent order deferments, an announced 5-percent reduction of the company’s production workforce and a worsening economic climate in general. To take advantage of the growth of business aviation in the Middle East, the U.S. manufacturer has established a sales office in Dubai and recently added a technical representative here as well. Net Jets Middle East is displaying its first Hawker 750 this week at the show, marking the model’s introduction to the region. Jeddah-based National Air Services will operate the airplane. NAS last year ordered eight Hawker 750s and took options for 12 more in a deal that could eventually be worth more than $250 million. Hawker Beechcraft’s total order backlog currently stands at around $8 billion.Highlighting Hawker Beechcraft’s growth in the region, Bahrain-based charter operator Rizon Jet recently took delivery of a Beechcraft Premier IA and Hawker 900XP and plans to add another 900XP next year. Dubai’s MAF will also take delivery of a 900XP soon, while Gulf Jet, also based in Dubai, will take delivery next month of the first Beechcraft King Air 350ER in the region, which it will use for charter.Saudi Arabian Airlines is the country’s national carrier. It operates a diverse fleet of 140 airplanes including Boeing 747s, 777s, Airbus A300s, MD-11s and MD-90s. The airline’s private aviation unit has offices in Jeddah, Riyadh and Damman.