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Thu 13 Feb 2014 02:44 PM

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Saudia aims to expand to 200 destinations

Saudi Arabia’s national carrier announces plan to more than double the number of routes to 200, but give no details of timeline

Saudia aims to expand to 200 destinations

Saudi Arabian Airlines has announced plans to serve more than 200 destinations worldwide – more than double its current number - but has not given any details of a timeline.

The national carrier’s CEO, Abdul Aziz Al Hazmi, said the airline would resume flights to Manchester within a month, while Los Angeles also would return to the schedule “later”.

Saudia would operate three flights weekly on both routes.

Al Hazmi said the airline, which dominates the domestic market but has limited international routes, mostly in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, would boost its presence in existing countries on its network as well as expand to new ones.

“We want to reinforce our presence in Europe, North America, Asia - especially in China and Indonesia - as well as to open new markets in Russia, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan and Czech Republic,” Al Hazmi was quoted as saying by Arab News.

“We are also consolidating our network with the support of SkyTeam.”

Saudia joined the airline alliance, which has 19 members including one of America’s largest carriers, Delta, Air France, three Chinese Airlines and Middle East Airlines, in May 2012.

Al Hazmi said he welcomed the kingdom’s civil aviation authority’s (GACA) decision to grant licenses to two new airlines to operate domestic services within Saudi Arabia, while also saying Saudia would increase its domestic seats.

Privately-owned Saudi Gulf Airlines and Qatar Airways-backed Al Maha are due to enter the market this year.

Meanwhile, Saudia has set out a strategy to capture a market share of 22 million from 28.5 million domestic passengers by 2020.

“This an opportunity for passengers to compare our services with that of other airlines,” Al Hazmi said.

“We know the demand is more than our capacity.”

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