Saudia ‘unable to cope with modern market’
The Shoura Council’s transport committee has recommended Saudi Arabian Airlines hire co-pilots who have the required training and retired military pilots specialized in aviation to lead internal flights, Al-Eqtisadiah reported.
This will increase available internal flights and help Saudia meet current demand, the committee said at the Council’s 70th meeting here on Monday.
Discussing the airline’s annual report, the committee also said passengers should not be obligated to pay extra fees for being late for connecting flights because their previous journeys were delayed.
In addition, telecommunication centers should be internally, not externally, managed.
Shoura member Abdullah bin Naseef said the Saudi market has the capacity for five more airline companies.
There are 28 national airports offering flights between cities 1,500 km apart.
Saudia cannot bear the increasing demand of internal flights, said Naseef. He said the airline could increase its profit by establishing another subsidiary to serve the overwhelming number of passengers.
The airline also has the chance to serve 20 percent of pilgrims if it renews and expands its current services.
The rest of the pilgrims would be taken care of by foreign airlines. Council member Hayat Sindi said that it was time for Saudia to set a futuristic vision contributing to the development of aircraft and air travel in the Kingdom as well as improve its customer service.
Another member, Hanan al-Ahmadi, said the development of Saudia over the past decade was not “up to par” compared to other sectors in the kingdom. If Saudia continues at the same rate it will not be equipped to adequately serve Saudi citizens and fail to rival other airline companies.
She said: “However, Saudia is dependent on the government’s support and it currently lacks the financial flexibility and investment ventures needed to enable it to renew its vehicles and develop its infrastructure.
“This has given the chance to other Gulf and foreign airlines to enter the Saudi market and profit by offering the services Saudia is unable to offer.”
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Wednesday, Nov. 26, 2014.