By Frederik Richter
Air Yemenia sees 5% passenger rise in 2010; Airbus sees 50 plane sales in region this year.
Yemen's national airline Yemenia firmed up on Thursday a contract with Airbus to buy 10 A320 aircraft, most of which will serve to replace its existing fleet.
Airbus and Yemenia had signed an initial agreement on the order in November at the Dubai Airshow. The order is worth about $700 million, the two companies said a joint press conference in Manama on Thursday.
Abdulkhaled Al-Kadi, chief executive and chairman of Yemenia, told Reuters the order served mostly to replace Yemenia's existing fleet, while 20 percent of the order served to expand it.
He said that he forecasts Yemenia's air traffic to grow some 5 percent year-on-year in 2010, less than expected before conflicts within the country intensified last year.
Yemen has seen increased instability over the past months, fighting a Shi'ite rebellion in the North, while the West fears the country could be a new bedrock for Al Qaeda.
He also said the airline would resume flight to London soon after government officials from Britain had inspected the airport in Sanaa over the past two days.
"They were very happy, there were some small remarks, that will be fixed ... we will resume flights to the UK very soon," he said.
Fouad Attar, head of commercial at Airbus in the Middle East, said the company expects to sell about 50 planes in the region during 2010, about the same as during 2009. (Reuters)