RIYADH (Reuters) – Low-cost Saudi carrier Sama is suspending operations after the private firm failed to obtain financing from investors or government support as losses accumulated, the airline said on Sunday.
Sama said in a statement the stoppage slated to begin on Tuesday would be temporary but did not say when it would resume operations.
“We were expecting an aid package from the government in the form of subsidies for fuel …, necessary support to serve (Saudi) cities covered by the compulsory service and also a gradual increase in the prices of domestic flight tickets as well as financing needed to erase accumulated losses.
“We also sought to find strategic investors willing to invest in the company and inject the needed liquidity that would allow Sama to continue operations,” Sama said.
“None of these solutions proved conclusive,” it added.
Sama was one of three private low-cost carriers the Saudi aviation authorities have licensed to compete with national carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines.
The civil aviation authority requires low-cost carriers to cover main domestic airports.
But the firms have been complaining that they were not on an equal footing with the state-owned carrier especially in the cost of fuel which the latter obtains at subsidised prices.
Sama has been flying to destinations in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Syria and Sudan, with 164 weekly flights using six Boeing 737-300 aircraft, according to its website. Founded in 2005, it started commercial flights in 2007.