Where Did Saudia Fly Its Boeing 747-100s?

Saudia has been a very large Boeing 747 operator over the years, with a huge range of types used. It had 22 B747-100s in all, with seven operational between 2000 and 2010, when the type was retired. The year 2006 had the most 741 flights in that decade. Where were they used?

This B747-100, HZ-AIA, was delivered in 1981 and operated with the carrier until 2007. Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia.

Saudia has used some 123 747s in passenger and freight configurations over the years, as detailed below. Some freighters are still used, although the airline’s passenger fleet is now all about twins.

  1. Boeing 747-100 (including the SR)
  2. B747-200
  3. B747-200F
  4. B747-300
  5. B747-400 (including combi)
  6. B747-400F
  7. B747-8F
  8. B747SP
Saudi Arabian was a very important 747 operator over the years, with large numbers of types operated, including the SP. Photo: John Taggart via Wikimedia.

22 747-100s

Saudia, which is the Middle East’s largest airline this summer, operated 22 B747-100s in all, including the short-range variant, 747SR-81s, leased from Qatar Airways. Seven 741s were still in service after the year 2000, examining ch-aviation.com‘s database reveals.

The airline’s 741s were not retired from scheduled service until January 2010, according to Cirium’s schedules data. Two round-trips from Jeddah to Khartoum were operated on January 5th and 12th.

The B747-100 was until 2010. Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt via Wikimedia.

The year 2006

The year 2006 saw Saudia operate some 5,031 non-stop flights by the 741, Cirium shows, with just shy of two million scheduled seats by the type. That year, some 15 years ago, the carrier had a motley collection of passenger types, as follows. All have been retired.

  1. MD-90: 54,920 non-stop flights scheduled
  2. Boeing 777-200ERs: 23,085
  3. Embraer 170s: 12,429
  4. Airbus A300s 12,389
  5. B747s: 14,897

The 747 had about one in ten passenger fights that year, with the B747-300 and -400 used alongside the older -100. Perhaps surprisingly, the 741 was the second-most-used 747 type, with only the -300 having more flights in that year.

What a throwback photo! This aircraft, ‘India Bravo, was used only by Saudia, with its life spanning about 30 years. Photo: Kambui via Wikimedia.

10 countries saw Saudia’s 741s

Saudia’s B747-100s had a sizeable domestic network, including those operated before flights continued internationally. Some 10 international countries welcomed the type on a scheduled basis, as follows. With a strong focus on visiting friends and relatives (VFR) and religious demand, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sudan, and Nigeria the main recipients of the type in 2006.

  • Algeria
  • Bangladesh
  • Egypt
  • India
  • Iran
  • Kuwait
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
Here are Saudia’s 747-100 routes in 2006. Bangladesh was the leading international country for 741 flights. Image: GCMap

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24 routes were operated

With approximately 718 flights, Riyadh to Abha, some 531 miles apart, was Saudia’s leading 741 route. Indeed, the type was used to Abha, not that far from the Yemen border, from Saudi Arabia’s core cities of Jeddah, Riyadh, and Damman. Abha had around 1,422 flights in all.

Next up was the core domestic route, Jeddah to Riyadh, although this includes services that continued elsewhere. For example, some Jeddah-Dhaka flights routed via Medinah or Dammam, while a number of Jeddah-Lahore and Jeddah-Colombo services were via Riyadh or Dammam. However, Saudia‘s top-10 non-stop flights by the 741 were:

  1. Riyadh-Dhaka
  2. Jeddah-Khartoum
  3. Riyadh-Lahore
  4. Lahore-Jeddah
  5. Dammam-Dhaka
  6. Jeddah-Kano
  7. Riyadh-Khartoum
  8. Jeddah-Algiers
  9. Jeddah-Kuwait
  10. Riyadh-Colombo
Riyadh-Dhaka was the top international 741 route. Image: GCMap.

Riyadh to Dhaka

In 2006, Saudia used the B747-100, B747-300, and B777-200ER from Riyadh to Dhaka. The 741 was the most used, with typically five-weekly services by the type. In a week in January, for example, they left Riyadh on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays at 01:25 local time and arrived back at 14:45.

Did you ever fly the B747-100? Let us know in the comments.

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