By Courtney Trenwith
Saudi Arabian national carrier boosts passenger traffic to record 25m in 2013 - report
Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) increased its passenger traffic by almost 1m last year, reaching a record total of 25m, the airline’s director general has revealed.
The additional 913,264 passengers amounted to an increase of 3.75 percent compared to 2012, and the most in the airline’s 70-year history, Saudia’s Khaled Al Molhem told Saudi Gazette.
The airline carried more than 14.7m passengers domestically, an increase of 516,579 or 3.64 percent from the previous year.
The remaining 10.5m passengers travelled on international flights, an increase of 396,685 or 3.91 percent.
Al Molhem said the national carrier, which is undergoing a privatisation process, was developing a long-term strategy to boost seat capacity to meet the increased domestic demand from about 28m residents.
Domestic air travel in the kingdom has soared in recent years amid rising population and wealth but the two operating airlines, as well as the 27 airports, have struggled to keep up.
Al Molhem said Saudia would receive 71 new aircraft in the near future, allowing it to make additional trips to Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Madinah.
Last year, the airline add 6095 flights to its schedule to a record 177,435 domestic and international flights, compared to 171,341 in 2012.
More than 115,000 of those flights were domestic.
The airline also managed to improve its on-time performance, with more than 90 percent of flights running to schedule, a 1.61 percent increase from the previous year.
Al Molhem said the airline had upgraded its operating systems and procedures, and its upgraded services at various locations and on board its aircraft.
This year is expected to bring further growth with the launch of three direct flights a week to Los Angeles from Jeddah and Riyadh at the beginning of March.