Saudi launches new budget airline

In a competitive market where Middle East airlines are ruling the skies, a new low-cost carrier is being launched in Saudi Arabia, which will serve both domestic and regional Gulf markets.

Under the umbrella of the Kingdom’s existing Saudi Airlines Corporation, the one-class seating ‘FlyADeal’ is expected to launch mid-2017.

Saudi Airlines Director-General Saleh Al Jasser confirmed the news on Saudi Airlines’ official social media account, stating FlyADeal will offer ‘more affordable airfares choices throughout the Kingdom and through its international network’.

Headquartered in Jeddah, Al Jasser confirmed the airline will serve both domestic and international routes, adding: “We expect to serve the main trunk routes including our capital Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam and key regional markets.”

While no ‘key regional market’ has been revealed, the UAE is not a market that is likely to be ignored, with last year’s Iata numbers revealing the country would lead the aviation sector in the Middle East, poised to achieve the highest growth in the world over the next two decades.

According to the Iata forecast, the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will all enjoy strong growth of 5.6 per cent, 4.8 per cent, and 4.6 per cent respectively by 2034.

While Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways rule the region’s skies as full service carriers, select service airline Flydubai and Sharjah-based low cost carrier Air Arabia are the two airlines that FlyADeal could face stiff competition from.

While Flydubai also introduced Business Class seating in 2013, Al Jasser stated that FlyADeal would have a single class and a high-density seating configuration ‘so as to offer the best guest experience at the lowest fare’.

He continued: “A low-cost fare does not mean low service, so we will be world class in our focus of giving customers the best service possible… on getting people from A to B for a fair price.”

The website for the new airline has already launched; it is unclear though when tickets would go on sale, or how many aircraft would the carrier start with.