By Andy Sambidge
Regulator reveals response after move to open kingdom's skies to international carriers
Fourteen companies have expressed an interest in obtaining Saudi Arabia's new national air carrier licence after its aviation regulator announced plans to open up its skies to foreign airlines.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said companies included those fully owned by Saudis, Gulf-Arab firms and consortiums of Saudi-Gulf and Saudi-Chinese companies.
"We'll review their applications and study their financial capabilities in preparation for submitting the document of request for proposal (RFP) by the end of April," GACA said in comments published by the Qatar News Agency.
The RFP will contain detailed information about airports, cities, markets, passenger movement and tender procedures.
GACA said it will invite the applicants to an open meeting to attend presentations to be made by GACA experts and foreign consultants.
It added that it would provide successful airlines with all facilities to operate domestic and international flights.
"We'll not insist that they operate from specific airports and will give them multiple options, including free selection of domestic routes," it said.
A licensed company will have the freedom to choose any Saudi airport as its hub and also to operate international flights, GACA added.
Currently, state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) and private National Air Services operate in the kingdom but struggle to meet demand.