Saudi Flynas Eyes Huge Network Development

Low-cost Saudi airline flynas is expanding. It has just announced ten new seasonal routes this summer. On nine of these new routes, it will be the sole airline operating direct services.

flynas has just announced new seasonal services to a range of destinations. Photo: Airbus.

The news is reported in Anna Aero and based on an announcement made by flynas on Monday, 24 February.

New flights to new destinations

Most of the new seasonal flights will commence in May 2020. On 19 May, thrice-weekly return services will commence between Dammam and Batumi, Dammam and Sharm el-Sheikh, Jeddah and Salzburg, and Riyadh and Hurghada.

The following day, 20 May 2020, thrice-weekly return services will commence between Jeddah and Batumi, Riyadh and Salzburg, and Riyadh and Tirana. In addition, a four-times-weekly return service between Jeddah and Baku will commence on the same day.

There are some fairly exotic city pairings amongst flynas new routes. Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikimedia Commons.

A week later, on 27 May 2020, a thrice-weekly return service between Qassim and Sarajevo will begin. A further thrice-weekly service, between Riyadh and Salalah, is slated to commence on 18 June 2020.

An eleventh route, between Jeddah and Hurghada, has been flagged but there is as yet no start date.

According to flynas, these new seasonal flights build on the success of previous seasonal flights over the 2018 and 2019 summers.

flynas targets specific cities and specific markets

CEO of flynas, Mr. Bander Almohanna, says the airline targets unserved routes out of Saudi Arabia and also focuses on those countries that do not require visas for Saudi citizens to enter.

The Riyadh based low-cost airline has been growing steadily in recent years. Like a lot of companies in Saudi Arabia, ownership can be traced back to the country’s governing class. Key stakeholders include National Air Services, a Saudi holding company with various aviation interests, and Kingdom Holdings. The founder and chairman of Kingdom Holdings is Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a member of the Saudi royal family.

Since commencing operations in 2007 as Nas Air (it changed names to flynas in 2013), the airline has grown to 34 aircraft that scoot around to 23 destinations.

flynas has a pair of 747s

The majority (30) of those aircraft are leased A320-200s. There are also two older A319-100s and a pair of Boeing 747-400s.

What’s with the Boeings? flynas has a handsome run of business during the Hajj, offering safe low-cost air services between cities in Africa, Asia and Europe with large Umrah markets and Saudi Arabia.

flynas has some USD$11 billion worth of aircraft on order with Airbus. Photo: flynas.

While one of the 747-400s is kept busy running between Jakarta and Jeddah, the aircraft can be seen on the busy Jeddah- Riyadh, Dammam- Riyadh, and Jeddah- Dammam routes that cater to Hajj traffic when demand is high

The secret behind the success of flynas

Transporting pilgrims seems to be behind the success of flynas.  Since the airline’s founding in 2007, it has transported over 50 million passengers, including 7.6 million passengers in 2019.

The airline flies as far afield as Nigeria, the UK, and Indonesia. It serves four cities in Indonesia – the world’s most populous Islamic nation.

Business must be good and expectations high. In 2017, flynas ordered 20 A320neo aircraft to be delivered by 2026 in a deal worth USD$8.5 billion. The airline went back for more at the Paris Air Show last year, signing an MOU for a further 20 narrowbody Airbus’s in a deal worth USD$2.4 billion.

Tens of millions of pilgrim travel to Saudi Arabia every year and flynas wants a slice of that pie. By clever targetting of unserved and underserved markets, flynas seems on its way to getting that.