Saudi to open domestic airline market in September

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Saudi Arabia will allow new carriers to operate from September, the kingdom’s aviation authority said on Wednesday. The statement added that airlines will be granted licenses to operate both local and international flights.

Khalid al-Khaibary, the spokesman for General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), said the government is reviewing license applications from 14 companies and is yet to take a decision in this regard.

“The requests for proposals will be handed toward the end of May with a deadline to receive bids by the end of August. Winners will be awarded licenses in September,” Khaibary told Reuters by telephone.

Kingdom’s flag carrier Saudi Airlines and budget airline National Air Services (NAS) currently control the domestic market of around 27m people.

A price cap on domestic flights has forced private airlines to fight for their survival, as Sama Airlines, the nation’s third airline, was forced to suspend its operations in 2010. Saudi Airlines enjoys fuel subsidies from the state which means it has ticket pricing advantage over its competitors.

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