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Wed 26 Nov 2014 12:10 PM

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Saudi could handle 'five more airlines'

A member of the influential Shoura Council says the kingdom’s state carrier Saudia was struggling to cope with demand, while two new airlines still have not started services

Saudi could handle 'five more airlines'
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Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning aviation market could do with another five airlines, a member of the kingdom’s Shoura Council has said.

Government-owned carrier Saudia was struggling to cope with the increasing demand for domestic flights, Abdullah Bin Naseef said, according to the Saudi Gazette.

It should establish a subsidiary airline to help burden the load and increase profits, while also expanding and renewing its current services, he said.

Saudi authorities have approved two foreign airlines to enter the once-restricted domestic market.

Qatar Airways-backed Al Maha Airways was due to begin operations in November but has remained silent, while privately-owned Saudi Gulf Airlines said it would start next year.

During a Shoura Council discussion about Saudia it was recommended the airline, which is progressively privatising its operations, allow co-pilots to captain domestic flights to boost the airline’s capacity.

Council member Hayat Sindi said the airline needed to set a futuristic vision contributing to the development of aircraft and air travel in the Kingdom as well as improve its customer service, Saudi Gazette said.

Fellow member Hanan Al Ahmadi said the development of Saudia over the past decade had not been “up to par” compared to other sectors in the kingdom and the airline risked falling well behind other regional carriers.

“However, Saudia is dependent on the government’s support and it currently lacks the financial flexibility and investment ventures needed to enable it to renew its vehicles and develop its infrastructure,” Al Ahmadi was quoted as saying.

“This has given the chance to other Gulf and foreign airlines to enter the Saudi market and profit by offering the services Saudia is unable to offer.”

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