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Saudia increases flights to northern, southern cities



As part of joint efforts by national airlines to improve services for passengers during the peak summer season, a meeting was held at SCTA headquarters in Riyadh on May 25, 2013 under the chairmanship of HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman, President of Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, to discuss preparations to confront summer challenge.

HE Eng. Khaled Al-Molhem, Director General of Saudia, gave a presentation during the meeting, highlighting the airline’s development programs and implementation of its strategic plans during the past five years. He spoke about modernization of Saudia’s fleet by purchasing new aircraft as well as development of its IT infrastructure and qualitative improvement in various services.

“Many of our services can be had using electronic systems, without approaching a travel agency. These include reservation, purchase of ticket, issuance of boarding pass and selection of seat and meals,” the DG said. “A lot of improvement has taken place in our in-flight services for First Class, Business Class and Guest Class passengers.”

Mr. Al-Molhem said there is a 47 percent increase (compared to 2010) in seats made available on Saudia’s summer season flights to the Kingdom’s northern regions and 57 percent increase in flights to southern regions that house many of the Kingdom’s tourist centers. “This summer we offer 40,656 seats weekly on our flights to and from Abha,” Mr. Al-Molhem said.

There will be 114 seats on Jeddah-Abha-Jeddah sector weekly, 144 flights between Riyadh and Abha, 32 between Dammam and Abha, eight between Tabuk and Abha and six between Madinah and Abha in order to meet growing traffic between the five major cities and the southern tourist center.

“Seat allocation to Jazan has been increased by 63 percent to 19,998 seats per week,” the DG said. They include 56 flights between Jeddah and Jazan, 54 from Riyadh and 16 from Dammam. Tabuk has got 19,734 seats, 44 percent more than last year, with 52 flights from Jeddah, 48 from Riyadh, 28 from Madinah and 12 from Dammam.

Seat allocations have been increased by 46 percent for Najran to 12,012 seats, for Hail by 83 percent to 11,056 seats, and Baha 47 percent to 7,128, the director general explained.

Saudia has already started implementing its operation plan for summer last Thursday and this will continue until Aug. 30, said Mr. Abdullah Al-Ajhar, EVP Public Relations.

The plan focuses on operating more flights to major domestic destinations. "We have decided to make available as many seats as possible to meet demand," Mr. Al-Ajhar said.

Saudia has purchased 90 new aircraft including Airbus and Boeing to modernize and beef up its fleet and meet marketing requirements. "We have received 65 new planes including A330s and B777-300ERs and have joined our flight network," Al-Ajhar said.

"We have tried our best to provide the largest number of seats on domestic flights. We have also deployed more workers at airports and call centers to cater to the needs of passengers." He said all operation sectors have completed preparations for the summer rush, which coincides with school vacation, Ramadan Umrah operation and exodus of illegals. "We have set up special offices to deal with delayed flights and inform passengers about status of their flights," the EVP said.

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