Saudi opening up of skies to foreign airlines draws huge interest

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Riyadh’s announcement of opening up its skies to foreign airlines has attracted the interest of fourteen companies to obtain a licence, including Saudi-owned companies, Gulf-Arab firms and consortiums of Saudi-Gulf and Saudi-Chinese companies, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said.

“We’ll review their applications and study their financial capabilities in preparation for submitting the document of request for proposal (RFP) by the end of April,” GACA said in comments published by the Qatar News Agency.

The RFP will contain detailed information about airports, cities, markets, passenger movement and tender procedures, the Saudi authority added.

It also said that only airlines with all facilities will be granted the licence to operate domestic and international flights.

“We’ll not insist that they operate from specific airports and will give them multiple options, including free selection of domestic routes,” Saudi civil aviation body said in a statement.

A licensed company will have the freedom to choose any Saudi airport as its hub and also to operate international flights, GACA added.

Currently, state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) and private National Air Services operate in the kingdom but struggle to meet demand.

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