By Courtney Trenwith
Head of Saudi Arabia’s national carrier says it needs help to accommodate growth
The head of Saudi Arabia’s national carrier has called for more airlines to be allowed to compete domestically to help cope with surging demand.
Qatar Airways and Gulf Air have been given regulatory approval by the kingdom’s General Authority of Civil Aviation to operate domestic flights, but they are yet to begin services.
Low-cost carriers Sama and Nas entered the market several years ago but only the later still exists.
Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) director general Khaled Al-Molhem said more domestic carriers were needed, despite the competition against the national carrier.
“We have seen huge demand for Saudia flights. We believe that the presence of more companies will give customers opportunities to see the high standard achieved by the national carrier over the past years,” Al-Molhem was quoted as saying in Arab News.
He announced Saudia had reallocated 50 of its aircraft to domestic-only services.
“We are planning to increase the number of domestic flights, further making use of the airline’s available capacity,” Al-Molhem said.
During a board meeting, Saudia chairman Prince Fahd bin Abdullah also called for greater capacity in the airline for both domestic and international passengers.
The number of domestic passengers in the kingdom, which is the largest Gulf state by population and land mass, is expected to reach 25m by 2020. Saudia is targeting 22m of that total.
Major airport expansions in the kingdom’s key cities also are underway to accommodate the increase in air travel.
“We’ll work with authorities to find short-medium and long term solutions to meet the demand of these growing numbers of passengers,” Al-Molhem said.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.