Feb. 13--JEDDAH -- Saudi Arabian Airlines has announced plans to expand its operations to more than 200 destinations worldwide with minimum connections.
"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," said Abdul Aziz Al-Hazmi, CEO of Saudia.
He was addressing a joint press conference with Michael Wisbrun, managing director of SkyTeam.
He said Saudia joined SkyTeam, a 19-member global alliance of airlines in May 2012, as part of its efforts to offer high quality services to passengers.
"We have implemented the alliance's premium service SkyPriority in almost all its stations and its value customers have started enjoying it," he said.
With the launch of SkyTeam's Round the World booking tool, Saudia customers are now able to book their round the world tickets in a couple of clicks on the alliance's website for attractive prices, including a 10 percent fare promotion currently running until March 31. "
Within a month we will be resuming our flight to Manchester and later to Los Angeles, operating three flights weekly to both destinations," Al-Hazmi told Arab News.
"We are also consolidating our network with the support of SkyTeam."
He welcomed the arrival of two domestic operators.
"This an opportunity for passengers to compare our services with that of other airlines."
He said the new operators would help meet the growing domestic demand. The CEO emphasized Saudia's plan to make more seats available on its flights in the domestic sector.
"We know the demand is more than our capacity," he added.
Saudia has set out a strategy to capture a market share of 28.5 million domestic passengers by 2020.
Wisbrun emphasized the important position of Saudia in his alliance as it offers connections to Saudi, Middle Eastern and Asian markets. SkyTeam membership helped Saudia to increase its revenue, he said and disclosed plans to establish a SkyTeam Lounge at Dubai airport in January 2015.
"At SkyTeam we seek to improve the customer experience by implementing network-wide customer products and services that deliver seamless travel. He said the total number of passengers carried by SkyTeam member airlines reached more than 550 million.
"We offer 15,000 flights daily to more than 1,000 destinations in 178 countries," he said.
Garuda Indonesia will join SkyTeam next month as the alliances 20th member.
Wisbrun spoke about consolidation of airlines in the US, Europe and other continents while stressing the importance of airline alliances to improve customer services and reduce corporate expenditures.
SkyTeam flights cover about 90 percent of the globe, providing easy connections to destinations worldwide, he said.
Asked whether the alliance has plans to admit more members, he said: "Our focus now is on improving services provided by existing airlines and their cost-effectiveness and ensuring smooth transfer of passengers between the member airlines. Increasing the number will create complexities."
Copyright 2014 - Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
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