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Saudi Transport Minister: New Airline Companies Granted Operating Licenses - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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RIYADH – Saudi Minister of Transport and Acting Chief of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) Sulaiman Bin Abdullah Al-Hamdan said that new airline companies have been granted operating licenses in Saudi Arabia, noting that the Kingdom’s airline sector has become self-sufficient.

Al-Hamdan handed over on Wednesday the national air operator license for chartered flights to the CEO of Sky Prime Aviation Salem Abaid Al Muzaini, the Saudi Press Agency said.

Speaking following a ceremony held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh, Al-Hamdan said 2017 would be an important turning point in the air transport industry, as new companies have obtained licenses and would start operating soon in the Kingdom.

The minister said that SaudiGulf, Nesma and Sky Prime, which obtained their license during the last quarter of 2016, are expected to begin operations in 2017.

Al-Hamdan said that this move, which falls under Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, would solve the problem of scarcity of seats that most of the Kingdom’s regions and governorates have been suffering from for many years.

He also noted that such measure would create a balance in the air transport market in the Kingdom and would have a positive impact on the standards of prices and services provided to passengers.

Al-Hamdan praised the big efforts exerted by GACA in this regard. He also revealed plans to monitor airline companies and evaluate their performance on a continuous basis.

“The objective is to obtain the best results,” he said, adding that the private sector would be given the opportunity to provide services to the new operating companies.

For his part, Assistant GACA Chief for Safety, Security and Air Transport Captain Abdul-Kareem Muhammad Al-Badr highlighted the importance of chartered flights in the Kingdom’s air transport industry, especially during Haj and Umrah seasons and vacations.

Al-Badr said the demand for air travel is much higher than the supply provided by air carriers operating in the Kingdom, even during off season periods. He said this is one of the indicators confirming that the air transport market in the Kingdom is promising and can accommodate more air carriers and provides them with distinctive investment opportunities.

Meanwhile, Sky Prime CEO announced that the company would use King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh as main stations for its operations. He said Sky Prime would launch its first flight before the end of 2016.