Saudi Arabia’s new airline to target young, tech-savvy travelers

Flyadeal, will offer domestic services from Sept. 23 and begin international flights before mid-2018.

:: Saudi Arabian Airlines’ low cost carrier will start flights next month, aiming to carve out a new market among the country’s young, tech-savvy population.

Flyadeal, a subsidiary of the state-controlled holding company that also owns national carrier Saudia, will offer domestic services from Sept. 23 and begin international flights before mid-2018.

“We see enormous opportunity to offer more choice particularly out of another base,” Flyadeal Chief Executive Con Korfiatis said on Thursday.

Regional budget carriers

The airline will be a pure low cost model, with passengers charged for meals and checked luggage, which though popular in other markets has not had major success in the Middle East beyond Sharjah-headquartered Air Arabia.

Other regional budget carriers such as flydubai or the Saudi-based flynas attract travelers with hybrid models offering full service perks such as business class.

“We saw the low fares airline space as a white space for us to grow into,” Korfiatis told Reuters by phone. “We are primarily looking to come in and stimulate rather than have to survive on taking from anybody else.”

Fleet size

The Jeddah-based airline has leased eight Airbus A320s from Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE). It took delivery of its first aircraft on August 23 and a second will arrive in a couple of weeks.

The fleet size will increase to five A320s by the end of 2017 and all eight will be delivered by mid-2018.

The brand is being positioned to target young travelers in a country where about half of the population of 21 million Saudis — there are also 10 million expatriates — are estimated to be under 25.

“That’s the demographic that’s the future of this airline,” Korfiatis said.

Flyadeal receives its first aircraft and the first of eight Airbus A320 aircraft, becoming the newest operator of the A320 family.

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