By Staff writer
Kingdom's congested airline market has led to greater growth in charter flights than commercial bookings, official regulator figures show
Saudis are increasingly chartering private planes rather than booking commercial flights, the latest official figures show.
The number of passengers on private planes increased 31.8 percent to 237,273 during 2014, according to General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) data published by Saudi Gazette.
Meanwhile, the number of commercial flights grew by 11 percent during the same period.
International commercial flights recorded 28.8 percent growth to 1.06 million passengers, while domestic demand rose only 7.8 percent to nearly 5.09 million passengers, GACA figures show.
The regulator has approved two new airlines to operate domestic services in the kingdom to help alleviate capacity constraints as residents increasingly prefer to travel by air.
Privately owned Saudi Gulf Airlines said in May it aimed to begin flying from its Damman base in November after receiving regulatory approvals.
Qatar Airways subsidiary Al Maha Airways was due to launch at the end of last year but its start has been delayed due to red tape. There is still no expected starting date.
National carrier Saudia also is the process of privatising its numerous businesses, while 25 airports are either being renovated or built.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.