By Daniel Shane
Entry of Qatar Airways and Gulf Air said to be pushed back from this year over fuel price dispute
The entry of Qatar Airways and Gulf Air into Saudi Arabia’s domestic aviation market has been delayed from the end of this year following a dispute over fuel prices, it was reported.
The two carriers were last year awarded licenses by the kingdom’s General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) and were due to launch internal flights in the country later in 2013.
Sources told Arabic daily Al-Watan that both would be forced to delay operations however, after a committee made up of senior officials from GACA and oil monopoly Saudi Aramco failed to reach a decision on how much to charge the airlines for jet fuel.
State-owned carrier Saudi Arabia Airlines receives subsidised fuel from Aramco, and it is understood that GACA would also favour a reduction in fuel prices for Qatar Airways and Gulf Air in order to level the competitive playing field.
The sources did not indicate when a decision was likely to be made on the matter.
A spokesperson for Gulf Air declined to comment on the matter, while Qatar Airways did not immediately respond to Arabian Business’s invitation for comment.
Saudi Arabia’s domestic aviation market is currently served by just two carriers: Saudi Arabian Airlines and low-cost rival nasair.
Qatar Airways has said that it will place ten narrow-body aircraft in Saudi Arabian airports, while Gulf Air is yet to make public its plans.