In a statement issued on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia announced that domestic flights throughout the kingdom would begin to resume from Sunday. As the COVID-19 crisis eases, the suspension of flights will be lifted in stages to include all domestic destinations within two weeks.
Saudi Arabia domestic flights to start on Sunday
The statement, issued by the Saudi Arabian General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), announces that it has approved the resumption of domestic flights starting on Sunday 31st May. GACA said that,
“. . . it has completed its operational preparations to gradually lift the suspension of domestic flights in order to ensure a safe travel journey for travelers through Saudi airports while taking all necessary preventive measures and health measures.”
The resumption of flights will take place in stages with all local destinations operational within two weeks. The first stage includes 11 airports in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Medinah, Qassim, Abha, Tabuk, Jazan, Hail, Bahah, and Najran. In a further press release yesterday, GACA added Al-Jouf and Arar airports to the list.
GACA says it will work with airports, airlines, and companies within the civil aviation sector to meet the demand of the local market.
GACA chairs a meeting to kickstart aviation
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Arabia was poised for growth in domestic and tourist traffic, but that has been on hold since March.
In response to the spread of COVID-19, Saudi Arabia suspended international flights on 15th March and domestic services on 21st March. Some exceptions were allowed for humanitarian and medical emergencies, along with repatriation flights for residents returning to the kingdom.
Last week, GACA chaired a virtual meeting of the Air Transport Committee to study the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry in the Arab world. The meeting looked at ways to help accelerate the recovery of air transport and restore the confidence of air passengers.
The measures discussed to help airlines included the reduction of air carrier fees, the cancellation of parking fees for grounded aircraft, and the easing of restrictions on the use of cargo planes by airlines. Further measures involved the support of ground handling, catering, and maintenance companies.
“It is worth noting, that the Kingdom, represented by GACA has the utmost international confidence in its efforts to develop the aviation industry and its continuous support for international organizations concerned with aviation.”
Saudia to operate 60 domestic flights in the first stage
As a part of the first phase of the resumption of domestic air travel, Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) will operate 60 flights from Sunday. The airline will coordinate with GACA to gradually increase its services in line with the staged recovery plan.
Saudia, the Kingdom’s flag carrier, could become a Boeing only airline after it was revealed last week that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund took a significant stake in the US planemaker. It could prove to be a good investment with its current low share price bound to recover from the current crisis.
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