The membership will enable Saudi Arabian Airlines to offer 14,700 daily flights being operated by alliance members to 958 destinations in 173 countries.
Under the patronage of HH Prince Fahd bin Abdullah bin Muhammad Al-Saud, President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saudi Arabian Airlines, Saudia celebrated its joining of SkyTeam global alliance during a ceremony at King Abdulaziz International Airport by signing agreements with member airlines on Tuesday, May 29, 2012.
By signing this historic agreement by HE Eng. Khaled Al-Molhem, the Director General, Saudi Airlines becomes the 16th member of SkyTeam and the first member in the Middle East. Top executives of SkyTeam and Saudia as well as senior executives of SkyTeam member airlines and representatives from the media attended the ceremony.
In his welcome speech, the DG spoke about Saudi Airlines’ strategic plans that brought about modernization of its technical infrastructure, upgrade of its service systems by applying modern international passenger management systems. He also referred to the airline’s fleet modernization efforts by purchasing 90 new aircraft.
Of these aircraft it has already received 54 Airbus and Boeing 777 planes.
The DG told the gathering that the new fleet would enable Saudia to expand its domestic and international services and operate direct flights to most destinations. He highlighted Saudia’s efforts to enhance the capabilities of its staff by providing them with advanced and intensive training, either at its facilities in Saudi Arabia or sending them to reputable international institutions of higher learning.
Eng. Al-Molhem said Saudi Airlines would cooperate with SkyTeam members to provide the best possible services to its passengers as well as global passengers. Mr. Al-Molhem signed the agreement with Mr. Michael Wisbrun, SkyTeam’s Managing Director in the presence of Prince Fahd bin Abdullah.
“Saudia’s membership adds value to the alliance by opening up the considerable Saudi Arabian market to our customers,” said Mr. Wisbrun.
“We are responding to passenger demand for increased travel choice within the Middle East by adding a significant player from the region.
This allows us to offer more destinations, while continuing our focus on enhancing products and services for our global customers,” the SkyTeam chief said.
In his keynote speech, Prince Fahd bin Abdullah welcomed top officials of SkyTeam as well as senior executives of SkyTeam members to Saudi Arabia. “Saudia’s accession to SkyTeam would strengthen the global alliance and enhance its capabilities as Saudi Arabia is located in a strategic place between the East and West,” he said.
Prince Fahd emphasized the importance of joining an alliance of international airlines in this age of globalization. He referred to the efforts of GACA in strengthening air transport in the Kingdom by constructing modern airports. The new King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah will soon join these facilities, adding that it would be one of the largest hubs in the world.
Before concluding his speech, Prince Fahd thanked the various committees who worked day and night to make Saudia’s accession to SkyTeam a reality. The ceremony witnessed the screening of a documentary on Saudia and SkyTeam. During the ceremony, two Saudia aircraft (Boeing B777-200 and Airbus 320) painted in SkyTeam livery were unveiled to the applause of participants.
Saudia decided to join SkyTeam on the directives of its top management to strengthen its international position. It will enable Saudia passengers to get excellent connections from SkyTeam stations such as Paris, Milan and Amsterdam to European and American destinations as well as to the large Chinese market through China Airlines that are members of the alliance.
On the other hand, the Saudia membership would enable passengers of SkyTeam member airlines to get excellent connections to Gulf countries, North Africa, Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia through the national carrier’s main stations in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam. Saudia will be able to make use of the facilities of SkyTeam airlines in international airports including VIP lounges.
SkyTeam, which is the second largest global alliance of airlines, offers its passengers about 14,700 daily flights to 958 destinations in 173 countries to explore. Whether making a personal journey or doing global business, passengers will enjoy more flexibility, convenience and choices along their journey with SkyTeam, which is also the largest cargo alliance in the world.
SkyTeam was established in June 2000 with the participation of four airlines: Aeroméxico, Delta Air Lines, Air France and Korean Air. It has 16 members now. They are: Aeroflot, Aeroméxico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines.
SkyTeam offers its 506 million annual passengers a worldwide network of flights covering new destinations. The alliance strives to provide its customers with seamless connections and a hassle-free travel experience before, during, between and after their flights. There are 490 SkyTeam lounges at airports worldwide to provide special services to its customers.
In August 2002, the alliance announced unified ticket prices for the Europe zone while in June 2003, SkyTeam's ground service terminal was opened at Charles de Gaulle Air- port in Paris. In July 2004 the alliance announced unified ticket prices for the America zone. In October 2005, it announced unified ticket prices for the Asia zone.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between nine SkyTeam members and the British Airport Authority in June 2006 to establish joint facilities at Terminal-4 of Heathrow Airport in London. In September 2008, unified ticket prices were announced for the China zone. In June 2009, SkyTeam's first terminal was opened at Heathrow while in September of the same year the alliance announced unified prices for the Mexico zone. In October 2009 joint facilities for the alliance were opened at Terminal-4 of Heathrow Airport.
Members of SkyTeam benefit from the alliance structure by gaining greater brand recognition and exposure, improving market positioning, increasing reach to new destinations, enhancing customer service and cost-savings and knowledge-sharing. Their brand is extended to key regions of the world, elevating the alliance's global presence and strengthening its brand recognition. Through collaboration, member airlines can benefit from knowledge- sharing among airlines and the sharing of best practices, particularly those related to safety, customer service and operational efficiencies.
Pictures from the event