Saudi travel market faces 2m seats shortage
Riyadh, June 30, 2013
Saudi travel market presently faces a shortage of two million seats, but this can be easily filled up once Qatar Airways and Gulf Air launch their domestic flights in the country, said a report citing a senior aviation official.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has already licensed the two Gulf airlines to operate flights to domestic airports, reported the Arab News.
Saudi Arabian Airlines needs at least 35 new aircraft to beef up its domestic fleet and meet growing demand, said Abdullah Al-Ajhar, executive vice president for public relations.
“We don’t have much information about the two airlines but we have learned from GACA that they would use 20 aircraft for domestic flights,” Al-Ajhar said.
GACA, he said, has offered to give cheap fuel to the two airlines to start domestic flights quickly. According to GACA, there is a 19 per cent increase in domestic passengers.
The Council of Ministers recently urged the national carrier to increase the number of its domestic flights and raise the number of seats to all destinations, said the report.
Al-Ajhar said the cabinet directive would encourage Saudia to mobilize all its capabilities to increase the number of flights and expand seat capacity.
“We have transported 14.5 million domestic passengers in 2012 and the figure is expected to reach 15.5 million this year,” he said.