Saudi Arabia Airlines Keen To Make Country An Aviation Hub

Carrier is celebrating the golden jubilee of its operations in Dubai.


Feb. 20--Saudi Arabian Airlines is keen to make the country a regional aviation hub that will bring a lot of economic benefits to the kingdom, according to the airline's director-general.

Quoting some statistics, Khaled Al Molhem said that the country has huge potential "as the traffic is already there for being a hub."

"We are not looking to capture their [UAE carriers] business but we are looking to capture growth of the business available in the market," Al Molhem clarified to reporters in Dubai on Wednesday.

The carrier, also known as Saudia and is celebrating the golden jubilee of its operations in Dubai, opened a 90,000 sq ft office in the emirate.

The kingdom's national flag carrier launched its first flight to Dubai from Dhahran in March 1963, carrying just 48 passengers. It opened a new era in its international operations as the number of Saudia flights to Dubai increased to 74 weekly. These flights are operated from the kingdom's major cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and the holy city of Madinah.

"We are happy with the strong relations with UAE carriers... and specially Emirates airline's competitive and cooperative relations," he said, adding that Dubai and GCC countries are the most growth oriented in the transport system, specially in air transport.

He said that the airline is very optimistic about the growth coming from both operations -- Dubai and rest of the world.

He admitted that Saudi Arabia has not invested for the last 20 years in infrastructure of the airport, but over the last four to five years there is a clear plan for investment in Saudi airports.

Al Molhem mentioned that even the domestic market is huge as the country has 27 domestic airports.

"We serve all the airports independently."

In the kingdom, the number of domestic passengers will cross 28.5 million by 2020 and Saudia intends to acquire a market share of 22 million, according to Al Molhem. The airline transported more than 25 million passengers in 2013, including 14.7 million in the domestic sector. There were 16.5 million seats on board domestic Saudia flights in 2013.

He said that Saudia is very pleased to see two new carriers entering the domestic market. After that there will be an opportunity for Saudia to release some capacity to serve more international markets.

The airline is under the process of launching initial public offerings of its different units.

The airline's new Dubai office houses the office of the general manager for Middle East and Gulf, administrative offices, training halls, finance department, sales and marketing departments and prayer hall that provide a suitable atmosphere for extending services.

Copyright 2014 - Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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