NAS to launch Saudi Arabia’s first low-cost carrier
In a move that reflects a pivotal development for its operation and further demonstrates its focus on providing non-traditional solutions to the regional aviation market, National Air Services (NAS), the largest and fastest growing provider of VVIP and executive air transport services in the Middle East, unveiled its plans to launch Saudi Arabia’s first low-cost airline.
The company plans to launch the airline before summer 2006.
The airline, yet to be named, will also be the first privately owned domestic carrier to be established in the Kingdom, and the only carrier other than Saudi Arabian Airlines licensed to provide scheduled domestic services.
This announcement comes only four months after the company made two other revelations that continue to permanently change the commercial aviation landscape in Saudi Arabia: that it had been awarded the first private Part 121 Air Carrier Certificate ever to be issued by the Presidency of Civil Aviation in Saudi Arabia; and that it had simultaneously launched its revolutionary Al Khayala VIP Shuttle Service.
Speaking to an audience of local, regional and international media at the company’s press conference during the 2005 Dubai Airshow, Mohammed Al Zeer, president and CEO of NAS, stressed the significant nature of what the company had been able to accomplish in recent months. “NAS has undertaken a mammoth task in obtaining its full air carrier certification and breaking down barriers which had existed under a monopoly for 60 years in the Kingdom,” he stated. “These accomplishments, including the launching of both the Al Khayala Service and this new airline, are a testament to the experience and expertise of every member of the NAS team, and a result of their hard work and dedication over the past two years. The writing of this new chapter in Middle East aviation also, of course, would not have been possible without the unwavering support we have received over the years from our board of directors and shareholders, who have believed in us since the beginning.”
Al Zeer also indicated that the Saudi market is ripe for the introduction of this type of service – a successful business model gaining clear acceptance throughout the world – since the country has by far the largest domestic air travel demand in the region and is uniquely suited to this type of model.
Al Zeer also stated that his company will soon announce details of the deal which is being finalised for the acquisition of a fleet of aircraft to be employed in its new low cost service. Commenting on the size and make of the new fleet, Al Zeer said that his company is currently finalizing a transaction with an international manufacturer and said that the aircraft model had been carefully selected in order to satisfy the unique requirements of Saudi and regional travellers. He added that the acquisition of the new fleet will be financed by an international lending institution and likely backed by Export Credit Agencies, as has been the trend for the company in recent years, reflecting the quality of the company’s business model and the ongoing confidence international governments and the lending community have in NAS.