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Wed 30 May 2007 02:30 PM

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Saudi's Sama adds new routes

The kingdom's low-cost carrier gets a boost with a sixth destination added to its growing list of routes.

Start-up low cost carrier Sama has launched its sixth domestic route to the Saudi Arabian city of Abha.

Sama will fly twice daily from both Dammam and Riyadh to Abha from July 14, with fares from Dammam starting from SR179 ($48) one-way and fares from Riyadh from SR109 ($29) each way.

"Adding Abha to the current list of destinations served by Sama from Dammam and Riyadh is a further expansion of the company's network, increasing our choice of tourism destinations and serving the community of Abha with lower fares," said Faisal Al Duhaim, director of marketing & PR, Sama.

"Sama continues to play a significant role in stimulating domestic tourism through providing flights to Saudi Arabia's major cities."

The budget carrier currently flies between five of the kingdom's major cities: Dammam, Riyadh, Jeddah, Al Madinah and Jizan, but Al Duhaim said that demand for the new route was high "from the moment it was [announced]".

Sama CEO Andrew Cowen said that demand for bookings has come mainly through the internet: "It's our biggest channel by millions," he explained.

"We've made the website really easy and you can pay online, but customers can also book through our call centre, our sales shops, or with a travel agent."

More destinations within the kingdom are due to be revealed in the near future, and the airline is eventually aiming for a license to operate to regional destinations within the Middle East.

"That's our target and there is immense passenger demand. Clearly Dubai has to be at the top of the list in this region, but there are many other destinations around the Middle East, including some of the secondary cities," Cowen concluded.

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