By Sara Anabtawi
GACA spokesman says there is shortfall of 2m seats for domestic travel
Aviation authorities in Saudi Arabia say they expect foreign carriers to begin running domestic services in the kingdom from April 2013, Arab News reported.
Speaking to the newspaper, Khalid Al-Khaibary, spokesman of General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), said that demand for domestic travel currently "amounted to an extra 2m seats annually".
Last month, Al-Khaibary was quoted as saying that 14 overseas airlines had applied for domestic licenses in the Gulf country and GACA would begin approving applications from September this year.
Al-Khaibary said the foreign carriers will have the option to pick any Saudi airport to operate out of.
He added that in terms of ticket pricing, GACA would put in place some regulations, but he expected competition to determine the cost of travel on foreign airlines.
"Ticket prices, however, will be based primarily on how many of the 14 foreign carriers that have applied will actually win licensing and enter the market, which is still unknown," Al-Khaibary added.
Low-cost UAE carrier flydubai earlier this month told Arabian Business that it would not be bidding for a domestic air license in Saudi.
Domestic air travel in Saudi Arabia is currently monopolise by state-backed carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines and no frills carrier nasair.
The more airliners are given licences to operate from domestic airports,the better . This will help millions of passengers by decreasing their waiting period at International airports to less than say six to eight hours to board next flight to their own countries.
To cite an example when going to Delhi from Sharurah,one
has to board only Saudia flight available which reach Riyadh
at 10 A.M. The next flight to Delhi would be available only at 5 A.M. next day , & this 19 hours waiting causes lot of stress & loss of sleep particularly to solo passenger . The same problem happens in return journey also.These could be avoided if some airlines alloweded to operate an evening or late night flight to or from Riyadh etc.