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Saudia to spend $476m to cargo division

Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) will spend $476.7 million (Dh1.7 billion) over the next five to seven years to expand cargo ground handling facilities, an executive at the company has said.

“This is a complete investment in Riyadh, Jeddah and Damman including the proposed cargo village which is going to be based in the headquarters at the King Abdulaziz [International] Airport in Jeddah,” said Amer Abu Obeid, Director sales–Middle East, North Africa & Turkey at Saudi Airlines Cargo.

The announcement follows comments for Saudia Director General, Khalid Bin Abdullah Al Molhem, in February that the airline is seeking to increase non-domestic operation profits.

Obeid said that $26.7 million will be injected into Saudia Cargo for urgent investment in its ground facilities over the next 12 months. The $450 million will be spent in its hubs at Riyadh, Jeddah and Damman over five to seven years. He said that the investment will start in the next 12 months, however, he added that it is subject to regulatory approval.

Saudia Cargo operates a number of wet-leased airplanes, nine Boeing 747-400’s, two 747-800s and four McDonnell Douglas MD-11’s.

Steve Manser, Director of charter sales, said the MD-11’s will be replaced with 747-400’s by July. He added that the cargo division is currently reviewing its fleet renewal needs and would mostly “go down the [Boeing] 777 route.”

Obeid and Manser spoke to Gulf News on the sidelines of the Middle East Cargo conference and exhibition in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.