Author: ROGER HARRISON | ARAB NEWS
Monday 10 January 2011
Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines, Khalid Al-Molhem, said that joining SkyTeam would add value to the national carrier’s services. “The SkyTeam network provides our customers with excellent connections to most parts of the world,” he said. “Through the exchange of services and knowledge between all member airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines can achieve qualitative improvements made available to our customers.”
The new agreement will interface with Saudi Arabian Airlines’ major hubs of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, enabling travelers to connect with new destinations in the Arabian Peninsula, India and Northern Africa. It will add 35 new destinations to the alliance network, such as Alexandria, Casablanca and Beirut.
SkyTeam partners in return will have access to new customers from the region as Saudia offers direct flights to Europe, Asia, Africa and the USA. Customers can transfer at SkyTeam hubs such as Paris, Rome, Nairobi and New York en route to destinations in Europe, Africa and North and South America. SkyTeam partner China Southern also offers regular connections to Asia from Jeddah.
Leo van Wijk, Chairman of SkyTeam, noted the economic importance of Saudi Arabia and said that Saudia was a significant player in the Middle East. “It covers a considerable part of the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent. Its membership in SkyTeam will enable us to compete more efficiently within the region.”
Marie-Joseph Malé, Managing Director of SkyTeam, highlighted the alliance’s global expansion.
“In 2010 China Eastern and its daughter company Shanghai Airlines, China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Aerolíneas Argentinas all confirmed their future membership in SkyTeam. Adding Saudi Arabian Airlines will definitely complement our network offer to our customers.”
Saudi Arabian Airlines is currently concentrating on its four-year turnaround program, scheduled to be completed by 2013. Key elements of this plan include modernization of its infrastructure, restructuring of its domestic and international network and implementing its fleet modernization plan through the purchase of 88 of the most advanced aircraft from the Boeing and Airbus families.