Dec. 25--JEDDAH -- Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has announced plans to allocate more aircraft for domestic flights considering the growing number of passengers who travel between Saudi cities and meeting requirements of the remarkable economic development in the Kingdom's regions.
According to a report presented by the airline's management to its board of directors, the number of domestic passengers in the Kingdom would cross 28.5 million by 2020 and Saudia intends to grab a market share of 22 million.
Khaled Al-Molhem, director general of Saudia, gave a presentation on the airline's performance in 2013 at the board meeting in Riyadh and said it would make a new record this year by transporting more than 25 million passengers, which is 7.5 million more than what it transported in 2008.
The meeting, chaired by Prince Fahd bin Abdullah, president of the General Authority for Civil Aviation and chairman of Saudia's board of directors, also discussed the challenges facing the national carrier. It also reviewed the airline's performance in 2013, its fleet modernization plan and progress of its privatization program.
Prince Fahd expressed his satisfaction over the progress achieved by Saudia this year compared to previous years. He also commended the management's efforts to improve the airline's services to passengers.
From January to November 2013, Saudia transported 22.97 million passengers, 1.97 million more than the same period in the previous year, the director general said. In peak days, the airline transports more than 70,000 passengers and operates more than 560 flights daily.
"We have increased our domestic and international flights and we have started operating three weekly direct flights to Toronto on Oct. 28, 2013. In March 2014 we'll operate three direct weekly flights to Los Angeles. We have also increased seat capacity on domestic and international flights," said Al-Molhem.
The number of seats made available to domestic destinations reached 16.45 million in 2013. The airline's on time performance rose from 89.56 percent in 2012 to 90 percent this year.
"It is a higher rate compared to the performance of other airlines in the region as well as American airlines," an official statement said.
"In July 2013 Saudi achieved ninth position among airlines in the world in terms of on time performance," the statement said quoting a statistical report issued by FlightStats, an international organization specialized in global flights and airport information services.
The meeting was given a visual presentation on Saudia acquiring 70 advanced aircraft from Airbus and Boeing during the past few years.
"This will bring the total number of new aircraft on Saudia fleet to 90 within a few years," the statement said.
Last November the airline received three Boeing 777-300ERs, one of the most advanced aircraft available in the world.
Copyright 2013 - Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
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