By Gavin Davids
Budget carrier to tap into underserved domestic market in most populous Gulf state
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.
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.
will operate daily flights to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and four flights a
week to Jeddah.
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.
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.
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.
addition of Jeddah and Riyadh, the budget carrier now services 36 destinations.
low-cost airline said in February it would take delivery of nine Boeing 737-800
aircraft in 2011 to support its regional expansion plans.
has ordered 53 aircraft since beginning commercial operations in 2009.