Saudi Arabian hybrid carrier flynas is considering a flotation and is hoping to renegotiate its firm order for 20 Airbus A320s, plus 18 options, in favor of either A330s or A350s.                                                                       

Jeddah-headquartered flynas operates 24 A320s and is just about to take three leased A330s to launch a new mid-haul network. All three A330s will be operational by the end of April and will be used to start 3X-weekly services to Casablanca, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Karachi, Lahore, London Gatwick and Manchester.

Paris Charles de Gaulle also forms part of flynas’ mid-haul plans, but CEO Raja Azmi told ATW that he has some “some technical issues with regard to the bilaterals, which we are trying to work out.”

Flynas firmed the deal for 20 new A320s at the peak of the market and, last November, Azmi said he was trying to convert the order to A320neos. However, during a one-to-one interview in London, he said switching to some A330s or A350s could be a more attractive proposition for both flynas and Airbus.

“We hope that with the [anticipated] success of our long-haul operation, we can talk in terms of a total package between the short- and medium-haul aircraft. We are not talking about A380s, but maybe A330s or A350s. That is something that would be very interesting because by the time we get the aircraft, we would be talking about 2018 or 2020 anyway.”

According to Azmi, flynas is “unfortunately” scheduled to start receiving the new A320s in 2014, but he said: “We’re not taking them. That is where Airbus has some issues, I guess.”

An Airbus spokeswoman was unable to comment on the specifics of the flynas deal or scheduled delivery dates, but said: “There are no discussions with them [flynas] at the moment.”

By 2020, flynas is aiming to operate a fleet of 60 aircraft, comprising roughly 40 short-haul and 20 mid-haul aircraft. These aircraft will support flynas’ long-term growth target of carrying 20 million passengers a year by 2020, compared with 3.3 million in 2013. NAS Holding group CEO Sulaiman Al Hamdan said this growth will be funded by the company’s shareholders, although a flotation is being considered.

“NAS is a privately owned company. Most of our funding is done by our shareholders, who are very committed, but we hope one day to take the company public. That is part of our plan. We have already engaged financial advisers who are working on that. We need to decide on the timing,” Al Hamdan said.

He said flynas has already paid “significant amount” for the new A320s, but added “it is no secret that we are talking with Boeing as well.” Flynas already operates a Boeing 747-400 on its Haj and Umrah religious tourism charter flights, but Azmi said this aircraft is a “gas guzzler” and he is not seeking any more examples of the type.

Flynas kicked off a business model overhaul last November when it rebranded from its former identity as Nasair. Since then, it has shifted from a low-cost to a hybrid strategy, with the January roll-out of business class cabins across its entire fleet of 24 A320s.