Emirates mulls not entering Saudi domestic flights market

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A Saudi newspaper reported that Dubai’s carrier may no longer be interested in Saudi market because of the tough terms imposed by the Gulf Kingdom, the largest Arab economy and most lucrative regional market.

According to a report published by Saudi Arabic language daily Aleqtisadiah quoting an unnamed Emirates source, the terms imposed by the Saudi Civil Aviation Authority for foreign airlines seeking to operate domestic flights in the Kingdom are discouraging.

“These conditions are not appropriate and do not encourage Emirates to compete in that market,” the paper quoted the source as saying.

“Emirates may be no longer interested in entering the Saudi market because those terms are not encouraging or suitable.”

The paper also quoted an aviation source as saying that Riyadh wants a ceiling on domestic flight fares which effectively makes it  ‘a difficult market for foreign carriers’.

“Emirates is currently looking with interest at various opportunities which it considers feasible in any part of the world….but it has not taken a decision yet because such issues need more time and studies,” said Ahmed Khouri, Emirates’ senior vice president for the GCC, Middle East and Iran.

Emirates, world’s fastest growing airline owned by the Dubai government, currently operates 38 flights a week to Saudi Arabia, including 12 to the capital Riyadh, 12 to the western Red Sea port of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia’s second largest city, and seven flights each to Dammam in the eastern region and Madinah in western Saudi Arabia.

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