Saudi Arabian Airlines aims to increase its fleet strength from 147 planes at present to 200 jetliners over the next two years as part of its aggressive expansion strategy, said its top official in an interview to CNN, Trade Arabia reported.
“We are building on the strength of the Saudi market, the Saudi economy is growing, there’s a lot of growth internally, plus there is an ambitious plan to grow the religious tourism to Saudi Arabia and we are targeting 30 million pilgrims by 2030,” remarked Saleh Al Jasser, Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines.
On its strategy to increase international visitors and also the new tourism visa plan, Al Jasser said there are three major initiatives that will be a game changer for the transportation industry in Saudi Arabia.
“One is the infrastructure, and the most important for us it the opening of the new jet terminal. Second is the enhancement and simplification of the visa process. Third is the top five program that we are launching within the airline to improve the service end-to-end,” he explained.
On its new low-cost carrier Flyadeal, Al Jasser said: “We launched Flyadeal during our national day September 23 last year and it was a very strong start. Today Flyadeal operates 44 flights a day to seven cities within Saudi Arabia.”
“We will be launching flights to the city of Tabuk next month and will continue to expand gradually. The target is to expand the domestic traffic and regionally as well,” he told CNN.
He lauded the government’s decision to revamp 20 of 27 regional Saudi airports; a key component of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s focus on economic growth.
In what is seen as a major boost to the Kingdom’s tourism sector, a whopping $7 billion is being spent on the refurbishment of Jeddah International Airport.
“Absolutely, there is a huge investment ongoing. There is the vision aligning everybody to work to one objective creating a lot of momentum. In terms of the infrastructure, Jeddah Terminal is the most important for us but also there are 20 other airports being revamped, as you know, Saudi Airlines serves 27 domestic airports every day,” he added.
On its future outlook, Al Jasser said the Saudi national airline was very optimistic about emerging as one of the top 5-star carriers in the future.
“We started two years ago to revamp the whole airline, we are changing the service, we are improving the product, we are enhancing all activities and we just launched a new and much more ambitious initiative to be ranked one of the five-star airlines in the world by the end of 2019,” he added.