Qatar Airways has pinpointed Saudi Arabia for the potential launch of a new airline.
The carrier sees the under-served kingdom as a key growth area, particularly for domestic services.
Chief executive Akbar Al Baker held talks with His Royal Highness Prince Fahad bin Abdullah Al Saud to discuss opportunities arising from Saudi’s newly-launched aviation liberalisation policy.
But Al Baker voiced concerns over excessive fuel charges in the country and the government’s policy of controlling domestic air fares which is not in the interests of consumers or airlines.
Al Baker said such factors were detrimental to airlines as fuel represented a major cost of operations.
Capping fares will never allow any airline to operate commercially, citing the demise of domestic carrier Sama Airlines due to such measures.
Al Baker stressed that other carriers operating domestic flights within Saudi Arabia were facing the same problem of rising costs, pointing out these needed to be seriously addressed.
Al Baker said Qatar Airways was keen to invest in the Saudi domestic aviation market, but this was dependent on a “fundamental rethink by the government of certain factors which needed to be tackled”.
The airline’s expansion plans include new routes to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania (July 25); Mombasa, Kenya (August 15); Yangon, Myanmar (October 3); Maputo, Mozambique (October 31); and a date yet-to-be-announced to the Serbian capital of Belgrade.
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