Full international recovery by 2024, says Saudia CEO
Saudi Arabian Airlines eyes a full international passenger traffic recovery and a return to profitability by 2024 says CEO Ibrahim AlKoshy. Despite gulf carriers recording a collective loss of $9.6 billion in February 2021 due to a 70% drop in traffic, as reported by IATA, Saudia's CEO is confident that the current domestic demand will carry the airline through the remainder of 2021.
According to a survey conducted in December 2019, about 46% of Saudi participants are keen on international travel once travel restrictions are lifted. This is a positive indicator for the carrier as it gears to resume international flights on May 17, 2021. To reignite passenger confidence, Saudia is putting in place measures to ensure the health and safety of its passengers, including preparing to trial the IATA Travel pass.
The gulf flag carrier entered the pandemic with a strong balance sheet following a SR13.6 billion ($3.6 billion) approval from the Kingdom’s Finance Ministry in 2019 and an additional SR6.4 billion ($1.7 billion) approved in the first half of 2020. Additionally, the carrier signed an agreement in April 2021, valued at SR11.2 billion ($1.7 billion) which will be put towards financing new aircraft up until mid-2024.
According to the carrier’s 2020 factsheet, its current fleet count is 144 aircraft, excluding any upcoming orders. Saudia’s CEO revealed that the carrier will consider working with both Boeing and Airbus for its fleet expansion.
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