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- Saudi Arabian Airlines
P.O.Box 620,Jeddah 21231
Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia
- Main hub
- Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport
- Saudi Arabia
- Business model
- Full Service Carrier
- Domestic | International
- Joined Alliance
- Association Membership
- Codeshare Partners
- Air France
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Middle East Airlines
Based in Jeddah, Saudia is the national airline of Saudi Arabia and is wholly owned by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The airline operates a network of domestic and regional services within Saudi Arabia and the Middle East as well as Asia, Europe and North America from its main base at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport.
Previously named Saudi Arabian Airlines, the carrier formally joined the SkyTeam alliance on 29-May-2012, becoming the alliance's 16th global member and first member from the Middle East. Saudi Arabian also used the occasion to re-brand, adopting its old name of "Saudia".
Saudia has its own cargo division, Saudi Airlines Cargo, which services over 20 destinations with a dedicated cargo fleet.
Location of Saudia main hub (Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport)
547 total articles
50 total articles
Since the Saudi Arabian Government ended the monopoly of national carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) in 2007, the aviation market in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been one of the Middle East’s most rapidly evolving, if not expanding.
The country has the largest domestic market in the Middle East, with a population of 29 million people spread over 2.1 million sq km, but has not been able to replicate the rapid growth its GCC neighbours have enjoyed because of regulatory impediments. A longstanding protectionist policy supporting Saudia is giving way to a scenario in which competition and growth are key elements.
Vueling has provisionally been assigned two weekly frequencies to operate between Spain and Saudi Arabia by Spain’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The rights allow it to operate from anywhere in Spain to Jeddah and/or Dhahran (via the airport of Dammam) in Saudi Arabia. Spain’s bilateral with Saudi Arabia allows for seven weekly frequencies, but, to date, Vueling is the only Spanish carrier to apply for rights.
Jeddah is the number one Saudi airport and Dammam number three by seat capacity (week of 13-Jan-2013, source: OAG). Vueling has not yet made public any plans to launch routes utilising these rights, but the Saudi market has some attractive characteristics. Moreover, Saudia is currently the only scheduled operator between the two nations, operating Jeddah to Madrid.
However, routes to both Saudi cities from Vueling’s Barcelona base would be significantly longer than any of its existing routes. Indeed, at more than 4,000km, they would rank among the longest narrowbody LCC flights anywhere in the world. Could Vueling’s skills in evolving the LCC model extend to what would effectively be a long-haul service?
Arab Air Carriers show that not all are created equal, but the rest of the world can learn from them
At the CAPA World Aviation Summit in Amsterdam in Nov-2013, one of the recurring themes was the success of Middle East airlines. Abdul Wahab Teffaha, Secretary General of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation (AACO), gave his thoughts on the development of Arab airlines, their success and the lessons to be learned.
Building on their geographical location, supportive government policies and relative political stability, some AACO carriers – notably Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways – have developed business models combining cost efficiency, high growth and a premium service. Of course, this formula has not been replicated everywhere in the region and it is a little misleading to talk about Arab carriers as a homogeneous group.
Nevertheless, other participants in the aviation sector, whether operator or government and whether in the Arab world or elsewhere, could learn some useful lessons from the success of the Gulf Three in particular.
Qatar Airways has named its forthcoming Saudi Arabian carrier "Al Maha Airways" but says it will not start operations until the first half of 2014 at the earliest. While Qatar has been unusually quiet on the operation and is not known to have ever stated a launch date, Saudi regulators had said it would launch before the end of 2013 as part of its liberalisation process. Qatar, along with a Gulf Air-linked group, was awarded in Dec-2012 a licence to operate domestic flights in Saudi Arabia as part of overdue reform in the aviation and tourism sector.
The Saudi government is right to rejuvenate the sector, but reform in early initiatives – the privatisation of Saudi Arabian Airlines – has proven slow. It now seems loosening the reigns on the domestic market is more challenging than imagined by regulator General Authority of Civil Aviation. GACA says it has had prolonged negotiations with government entities to reduce fuel prices for new carriers. Saudi Arabian Airlines receives fuel subsidies that distort the market and forced the exit in 2010 of start-up Sama. A cap on domestic fares makes some flights unprofitable even for Saudi. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told Reuters in reserved remarks he has an "undertaking" from Saudi authorities that these two "contentious issues" will be resolved. While domestic growth has lagged international growth – creating opportunity – there are, as Mr Baker said, "many challenges".
Kuwait Airways is saddled with one of the oldest and least efficient fleets in the Middle East, but the carrier is reportedly considering postponing its long awaited fleet order with Airbus, in favour of a deal involving short-term aircraft leases. The option to postpone the long-term solution may be the best avenue for the debt-laden carrier to accelerate replacement of its badly ageing aircraft, while sidestepping the political interference that has dogged previous acquisition plans.
Meanwhile, neighbouring Middle East airlines will add more than 50 widebody aircraft this year and another 50 in 2014, as carriers in the region continue to expand their fleets with high-capacity, long-range aircraft to fill out their globe-spanning networks. At the same time, they are dictating the options for other airlines in the region.
More than half of the aircraft scheduled to be delivered to the region over the next five years are widebody aircraft, including large numbers of next generation aircraft types such as the 787 and A350.
The Saudi Arabian General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has confirmed that Qatar Airways and Gulf Air will launch domestic operations in the country before the end of 2013. The granting of the licences to two foreign carriers to operate domestic service is an unparalleled move of openness in the Middle East. It will start a new era for travel within the country.
The opening of the Saudi Arabian market presents a new challenge to national airline Saudia. However, after several years of facing competition from domestic carriers and a thorough modernisation ahead of its entry into SkyTeam in 2012, as well as the extended international reach that alliance membership offers it, the carrier is in a better position now to meet the latest threat.
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