By Courtney Trenwith
Senior Saudia exec says rising demand needs to be met in domestic air travel sector
The Saudi domestic air market needs an additional two million seats to meet demand, a senior Saudi Arabian Airlines executive has said.
National carriers Qatar Airways and Bahrain’s Gulf Air have been given a licence to operate in the kingdom’s domestic market but are yet to begin services.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has offered discount fuel to entice them to begin soon, Saudi Arabian Airlines executive vice president for public relations Abdullah Al-Ajhar said, according to Arab News.
“We don’t have much information about the two airlines but we have learned from GACA that they would use 20 aircraft for domestic flights,” Al-Ajhar said.
GACA estimates domestic air travel has increased 19 percent.
About 14.5m domestic passengers were recorded last year and Saudia expects that to rise to 15.5m in 2013.
Saudia has purchased 90 new aircraft including Airbus and Boeing and Al-Ajhar said his airline needed an additional 35 planes to meet the growing demand.
The Council of Ministers recently urged the national carrier to increase the number of domestic flights and seats to all domestic destinations.
“We have received 65 new planes including A330s and B777-300ERs,” Al-Ajhar said.