Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has plans to purchase new aircraft for the local market as its domestic aviation market is huge with 27 domestic airports.
Khalid bin Abdullah Al-Molhem, director general of Saudia, said in a media conference on the sidelines of the golden jubilee of its first flight to Dubai that: “Our domestic aviation market, which is very huge, is underserved as the Kingdom is facing 1.5 million passenger seats shortage annually,” he added. However, he didn’t mention the number of aircraft company is planning to buy.
The airline celebrated the golden jubilee of its first flight to Dubai on Wednesday night at an event in Westin Hotel. The carrier’s first trip took off 50 years ago in March 1963 from Dhahran with just 48 passengers.
As part of the celebration, the carrier, also opened a 90,000 sqft office in Dubai. During the celebration, which was attended by top government officials, Saudi businessmen and media personalities, the airline screened a documentary on its history and success.
Currently, Saudia operates some 74 flights to Dubai every week. The trips are operated from major cities in Saudi Arabia, including Madinah, Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.
Al-Molhem said the carrier signed a loan deal of SR7 billion and is in the process of launching IPO (initial public offering) of its different units.
When asked about the competition, he said Saudia was happy to see two new operators entering the domestic market. The number of domestic passengers will cross 28.5 million by 2020 in Saudi Arabia.
“And we intend to acquire a market share of 22 million,” he added.
According to statistics, 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.