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Mon 1 Jan 2007 04:00 AM

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Low cost airline concept set to take Saudi Arabia by storm

At least three low cost airlines could soon be winging their way around Saudi Arabia.

Low cost airline concept set to take Saudi Arabia by storm
Al Jeaid will launch a carrier this year.

At least three low cost airlines could soon be winging their way around Saudi Arabia.

Private aviation company, National Air Services (NAS), has been awarded the first government license to operate domestic flights from Continues on page 3 Riydah where it is based, while the country’s flag carrier, Saudi Arabian Airlines, has also announced its plans to operate a low cost airline. This follows the brand launch one year ago of low fares carrier, Sama, although a launch date and KSA hub details are yet to be announced.

NAS will start flying in the next few months, and plans to cover 22 domestic destinations by the end of the year, and 37 in 2008.

Chairman, Ayed Al Jeaid, said the company would spend US $2 billion on 75 new planes by 2010, taking its total aircraft count to 100, at least 18 of which will serve its low cost operation. The others will serve the company’s business carrier, Al Khayala Airlines. The timescale for Saudi Arabian Airlines’ low cost carrier launch is more vague, but director general, Khaled Al-Mulhim, has outlined the strategy behind the venture: “There is a possibility to develop this sector in Saudi Arabia to cater to the needs of low-income groups, especially expatriate workers,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat Arabic daily. “If we can market this service properly, offering good price, we can easily get an extra eight to 10 million passengers in two years.”

The rush to establish low cost operations has primarily been driven by the success of Sharjah- based Air Arabia and Kuwait-based Jazeera Airways, coupled with the fact the country’s outbound market is booming.

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