Saudia Arabian airlines set to scale new heights
Saudi Arabian airlines (Saudia), one of the world’s 30 top airline companies, now carries more than 15 million passengers annually.
The national carrier posted a 40 per cent increase in its revenues last year, the largest in its 60-year history.
“This is the first time Saudia is making such a huge revenue in its whole history,” Saudia’s director general Dr Khaled Ben Bakr said without disclosing the figure.
“We achieved a record profit by implementing a scientific strategy and marketing plan matching with current situations and developments… All indicators show that we will continue to make good profits from operations this year.”
He said flexible and competitive prices, concentration on profitable markets and increase in Hajj flights from all over the world all contributed in the airline’s success. “We have achieved 92.31 per cent ontime performance in the first half of 2004 despite the large number of (average 260) flights we operate daily,” add Ben Bakr.
Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, second deputy premier and minister of defence and aviation and chairman of the airline’s board, recently honoured Saudia by commending the airline for accomplishing a new record in the number of passengers carried last summer.
Saudia is presently seeking to increase the number of Umrah travellers on its fleet this Umrah season, which lasts until the end of Ramadan. “Saudia is continuously working toward its full share of the Umrah market through a studied and complete strategy of transporting the Umrah performers this season,” announced Ben Bakr.
Because Umrah is an important source of revenue for the airline, it is attentive about raising the standard of service, being consistent in its flight schedules and issuing boarding passes two months before the travel date. In addition, the airline is making sure to have flight attendants who speak different languages.
“Based on these plans, Saudia is expected to transport Umrah performers through 86 locations around the world this season, and the number of Umrah travellers to the holy lands flying on Saudia is expected to exceed two million in addition to the domestic Umrah travelers,” he said.
Last Umrah season, Saudia transported 1.5 million travellers through 65 locations. Saudia is also benefiting from scheduling direct flights to Madina airport from more than 40 international locations.
Adding a feather to Saudia’s cap, Prince Sultan recently inaugurated the Kingdom’s first civil aviation academy at the Khalediya area of Jeddah. Prince Sultan said the academy would welcome female trainees. Prince Fahd Bin Abdullah, assistant minister of defence and aviation for civil aviation affairs, said the academy, which has been provided with advanced training facilities, would improve the airline’s performance and services. It will provide training to pilots, aviation engineers and cabin crew.
Prince Fahd added that, with the opening of the academy, the airline achieved self-sufficiency in its training needs. Saudia will not have to send its staff abroad for training, he said.
Meanwhile, the privatisation plan of Saudia has reached an advanced stage. According to Ben Bakr, a scientific study on the project would be presented to the Cabinet shortly.