JEDDAH: Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) celebrated the arrival of its 30th and last 144-seat A320ceo single-aisle plane from the manufacturers in Toulouse, France, on Wednesday.
To mark the occasion a celebration was held at the Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries (SAEI). It was attended by the consul general of France in Jeddah, Mostafa Mihraje, and the managing director of Airbus in the Middle East, Fouad Attar, along with senior Saudia officials.
The delivery completed the deal, signed in 2015 during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to France, which added more than 6 million seats on the domestic flight network. The Saudi national carrier and Airbus signed a purchase deal of 50 aircraft, including 20 A330-300 regional, double-aisle jets. All 20 of the planes had arrived by December 2017, in a record 21 months since delivery of the first plane.
The director general of Saudia, Saleh Al-Jasser, said that the two companies have had connections with each other for more than three decades. “The connection has developed into a strategic partnership with Saudia signing a deal to receive 50 aircraft.
“These aircraft have boosted the operational capacities of Saudia and added more than 6 million seats on the domestic flights network. They have also contributed to reaching new international destinations as well as the existing destinations,” Al-Jasser said.
He added that they will take delivery of a new 40-plane fleet of A320neo in the first quarter of 2019. “This will be a great addition to Saudia, which is witnessing a comprehensive program to modernize and develop its fleet and services to meet the aspirations of the Saudi leadership, which aims to put Saudia among the best airlines in the world,” Al-Jasser said.
Al-Jasser told Arab News that his company is planning to jump to the Top 5 Club of the London-based international air transport rating organization, Skytrax.
“We are looking forward to adding Saudia to the global elite airlines with a 5-star rating. This program needs a comprehensive service review of all operations beginning from pre-booking services through ground and air services up to after-flight services,” he said.
“We are now implementing this service on a pilot basis on our Jeddah-Dubai and Jeddah-Paris flights. We will consecutively add all our international destinations,” he said, adding that their “strategic” procedure aims to obtain the Skytrax certification by the end of 2019.
According to Skytrax ratings, Saudia is at present certified with a 4-star airline rating for its onboard products and staff services.