Saudi Arabia's General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) plans to launch a new airline Al Maha Airways in July as part of its big expansion strategy, Trade Arabia reported.

Abdul Hakim Al Badr, GACA Vice President of Air Transport, said that the plan to license a new Saudi airline company was to ensure fair competition among operating airlines in the country, reduce air fare as well as improve services.

In 2013, GACA gave initial approvals to two airlines – Qatar Airways and Gulf Air – to launch two subsidiaries – Al Maha and SaudiGulf. The goal was to help meet rising domestic demand in Saudi Arabia.

However, while SaudiGulf received a license to operate in the kingdom last summer, Al Maha did not. Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways, confirmed the withdrawal while stating the disappointment of such an act and the aspiration of new opportunity.

In the mid of February 2017, Qatar Airways was reported to have given up plans to commence Al Maha. According to Forbes, this announcement was partly expected due to persistent delays of the final approval.

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Qatar Airways gave up plans to commence Al Maha, a domestic airline in Saudi Arabia. According to Forbes, this announcement was partly expected due to persistent delays of the final approval.
 

GACA is also planning to give all regional airports in the kingdom international status and link small cities together without the need for passengers to travel via Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, the Saudi Gazette reported.

At the same time, Al Badr mentioned that in the future GACA plans to privatize all airports as the organization intends to discard the ownership of airports and its role will be limited to supervision.