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Sun 17 Apr 2011 06:19 PM

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Flydubai to launch flights to Riyadh and Jeddah from May

Budget carrier to tap into underserved domestic market in most populous Gulf state

Flydubai to launch flights to Riyadh and Jeddah from May
The low-cost airline said in February it would take delivery of nine Boeing 737-800 aircraft in 2011 to support its regional expansion plan

Flydubai,
the Dubai-based low budget carrier, will begin flights to Riyadh and Jeddah
from May 1, 2011, expanding its network to five destinations in Saudi Arabia,
the airline’s CEO said Sunday.

The new
routes are of prime importance in flydubai’s expansion plans, and will
supplement its existing routes to Abha, Gassim and Yanbu, CEO Ghaith Al Ghaith said
in a statement.

The airline
will operate daily flights to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and four flights a
week to Jeddah.

Saudi Arabia,
the most populous Gulf state, has struggled with a lack of competition in its
aviation market and to meet domestic demand.

Currently, Saudi Airlines and low-cost carrier National Air
Services serve a domestic market of around 27 million people. But with price
cap on domestic flights, private airlines in Saudi Arabia have struggled with
their profit margins, leading a third carrier Sama Airlines to suspend its
operations last year.

State-owned Saudi Airlines, which is currently undergoing a
privatisation process, receives fuel at subsidised prices which puts it at an
advantage, allowing it to continue serving the domestic market but its services
are not enough for the country's needs.

The country’s
Shoura Council said earlier this month it would consider allowing Gulf airlines
to fly domestic routes in the country in a bid to improve services.

Flydubai
this month said it would launch flights to the Egyptian city of Sohag and plans
to start servicing Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on April 22.

With
addition of Jeddah and Riyadh, the budget carrier now services 36 destinations.

The
low-cost airline said in February it would take delivery of nine Boeing 737-800
aircraft in 2011 to support its regional expansion plans.

The airline
has ordered 53 aircraft since beginning commercial operations in 2009.

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