Saudia, the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, is edging nearer to resuming flights after a statement from the country’s General Authority of Civil Aviation. In a circular sent out to local airports, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority said international flights would resume on May 17, 2021.
On the 29th of January 2021, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia extended the travel ban on its citizens going overseas to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In the statement seen by Arab News, it says that the authority may continue to ban travel to certain countries that have a high proportion of coronavirus cases.
Domestic air travel has increased
While international travel was suspended, Saudi Arabia’s domestic carriers have seen demand pick up for flights within the Kingdom. At the CAPA Live event on March 10, it was noted that Saudi Arabia was recovering strongly when compared to its Middle Eastern neighbors.
When speaking about this, CAPA analyst Richard Maslen said:
“The domestic recovery in Saudi Arabia is already showing positive signs, in frequency terms at least.”
According to CAPA data, domestic flights within Saudi Arabia had grown to around 3,000 per week. A figure representing a decline of only 23% compared to January and February of 2020 before COVID-19 travel restrictions were implemented in Saudi Arabia.
Jeddah Airport temporarily closed
In other Saudia-related news, the airline’s main base at King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) was temporarily shut down yesterday after the military intercepted Houthi missiles and drones. Saudi Arabia intervened in the Yemen Civil War in 2015 following a request for military support from Yemen president Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.
After having captured the capital in 2014, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels now control most of the country. The war has now escalated to become an Iran–Saudi Arabia proxy conflict with Houthi rebels targeting the Kingdoms infrastructure. After reporting the downing of a missile and six explosive drones
Brigadier General Turki al-Maliki told news outlet Al Arabiya :
“The Houthi militia deliberately escalates hostile and terrorist targeting of civilians and civilian objects systematically… Those actions constitute war crimes.”
The Saudi Arabian military and its partners appear to have matters under control. Still, as the Houthi rebels continue to target airports, it could lead to more temporary closures and the need for planes to divert to other airports.
Formally known as Saudi Arabian Airlines, Saudia is the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia. With its main base at King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) in Jeddah and secondary hubs at King Khalid International Airport (RUH) in Riyadh and King Fahd International Airport(DMM) in Dammam. Saudia is the Middle East’s third-largest airline in terms of revenue, behind Emirates and Qatar Airways.
Saudia’s fleet is comprised of the following planes:
- 46 x Airbus A320-200s
- 15 x Airbus A321-100s
- 32 x Airbus A330-300s
- 6 x Boeing 747-400s
- 2 x Boeing 747-8s
- 35 x Boeing 777-300ERs
- 4 x Boeing 777Fs
- 5 x Boeing 787-10s
- 13 x Boeing 787-9s
While Saudia says it will resume international flights on May 17, we still do not know which countries it will be allowed to fly to because of government restrictions. Airlines worldwide are facing the same dilemma, which makes planning flights difficult.
Have you ever flown an international flight on Saudia? If so, please tell us what you thought of them in the comments.