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Saudi Airlines boss says he wants more competition

Competition would make Saudia better, Khaled Al-Molhem claims.
Saudia is suffering losses on domestic flights, says Khaled Al-Molhem.
Saudia is suffering losses on domestic flights, says Khaled Al-Molhem.

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Khaled Al-Molhem, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), has said that he wants more competition in Saudi Arabia’s aviation industry.

According to comments published in Arab News this week, Al-Molhem feels more competition will improve efficiency and service.

“We need more airlines to create competition and improve efficiency. Right now, people in the Kingdom are depending mainly on a single airline,” the director general told attendees at the Jeddah Economic Forum.

Saudia has only one domestic competitor, Nasair, after Sama went out of business last year.

The airline cited caps on domestic air fares as the mean reason for its failure, a theme taken up by Al-Molhem at the forum.

“There has been no change in domestic ticket fares for the last 16 years,” he said. “Prices of everything have gone up and the salaries of our employees have increased. So we are suffering losses.”

According to the report, Saudia now has a reputation for poor service and unfriendly staff. Only last week, one of the airline’s planes was enveloped in black smoke while preparing for takeoff in Dammam.

Al-Molhem said that his plan to divide the airline into business units and privatise each one remains in place.

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