Saudi Arabian Airlines' board reviews privatisation report

The board of directors of Saudi Arabian Airlines recently met to discuss a final study on the proposed privatisation of the kingdom's national carrier.

The legal aspects were studied by the London-based Clifford Chance and BNP Paribas bank. Aviation aspects were covered by KBMG and S H Bakr said he expected the airline to post a six per cent increase in revenues over 2001.

Saudia is set to transport a total of 893,000 pilgrims from 70 international stations as well as 2.4 million Umrah pilgrims this year. Saudi Arabian transported more than 14 million passengers in 2001.

The meeting, chaired by Second Deputy Premier Prince Sultan, approved a plan to set up a training facility at Jeddah's Prince Sultan Academy for Aviation Sciences.

The Saudi government has allocated SR11.3 billion ($30 million) for the carrier in the 2003 budget.

The aviation sector was one of the 20 areas drawn up by the government for privatisation.

Finance and Economy Minister Ibrahim Al Assaf said that Saudi Arabia's planned sale of stakes in big public firms would reduce its debt burden.

The kingdom's domestic debt is estimated at about $170 billion while foreign debt stands at around $20 billion.

* Saudi Arabian Airlines has prepared a comprehensive strategic plan to develop its reservation and booking services as well as its telecommunications systems, it was reported.

Customer services acting vice-president Yousef Abdel-Kadir Atiyya, said the plan will be implemented early next year.