MANAMA: Qatar Airways has reached agreement with Saudi authorities on solving problems that blocked its entry into the kingdom’s domestic market, and plans to start operating there by the end of the third quarter, its chief executive said yesterday.
“We have appointed a CEO for Saudi operations, and we are planning to launch operations anytime between the second and third quarters of this year,” Akbar Al Baker (pictured) said.
Saudi Arabia’s price caps for domestic flights have hurt airlines’ profit margins, while fuel subsidies have helped flag carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines compete against rivals.
Qatar Airways had earlier said its Saudi domestic carrier will be called Al Maha Airways and will start with main cities such as Riyadh and Jeddah, before moving to second-tier cities.
On the sidelines of Bahrain International Airshow, Al Baker said these issues had been resolved, though he did not give details.
“There is a compromise that has been accepted by the authorities regarding the price cap and the fuel price.”
Saudi Arabia started opening up its aviation market in 2012 by awarding additional carrier licences. Population growth and rapidly rising incomes mean there is considerable room for expansion, analysts believe.