SalamAir has agreed to lease two new Airbus A321LRs from GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) and is eyeing them to address peak-season capacity surges and winter charter demand to Europe, among other routes, the airline’s top executive says.

“This airplane is a game-changer,” SalamAir CEO Mohammed Ahmed said Nov. 17.

The Muscat, Oman-based airline has not decided where its largest aircraft will fly, but Ahmed said the aircraft’s eight-hour range means it could serve growing demand for charter flights linking Muscat and Western Europe. The airline’s only current European market is Turkey.

The aircraft are scheduled to be delivered in 2020, and are part of the airline’s target to grow its fleet to 20 aircraft. It currently operates seven, three 174-seat A320ceos and four 180-seat A320neos. Some of the A320neo deliveries have been affected by Airbus production issues. 

The two-year-old carrier has committed to two more A320neos as well as the A321LRs. It plans to finalize the A321LR’s configuration in the coming weeks, Ahmed said.

All of Salamair's aircraft are leased, but Ahmed says the airline’s goal is to mix in some owned aircraft as well.

SalamAir is a new GECAS customer.

“These aircraft are key additions to SalamAir’s fleet and will help them to efficiently expand into key markets in Asia, Africa, and Europe,” GECAS SVP and regional manager Michael O’Mahoney said.

SalamAir also considered A220s as part of its expansion. Ahmed said adding smaller aircraft is not off the table.

Sean Broderick,