Saudi Arabian Airlines celebrates arrival of new Airbus jet

Saudi officials and staff of the Saudi Arabian Airlines witness the unveiling of the airlines 30th and last 144-seat A320ceo in Jeddah on Oct. 3, 2018. (Twitter photo)
Updated 05 October 2018
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Saudi Arabian Airlines celebrates arrival of new Airbus jet

  • The delivery completed the deal, signed in 2015 during Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to France
  • Saudia and Airbus signed a purchase deal of 50 aircraft, including 20 A330-300 regional, double-aisle jets. All 20 of the planes had arrived

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.


Saudi Arabia rises in English proficiency ranking

Delegates at the EF EPI conference pose for a group photo on Wednesday in Riyadh. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 25 min 34 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia rises in English proficiency ranking

  • Scoring 43.65, Saudi Arabia is ranked 83rd in the world, ahead of Afghanistan, Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Iraq and Libya

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has improved its ranking on the English proficiency index, a conference in the Kingdom heard on Wednesday.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) holds the highest ranking among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, ranking 71 globally and scoring 47.27.
EF Education First, a global education company focusing on language, academic, cultural exchange and educational travel programs, held its eighth edition of the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI) Conference for the first time in the Kingdom here on Wednesday.
EF Education First released its annual global ranking of English proficiency, the EF EPI 2018, drawing on data from 1.3 million non-native English speakers in 88 countries and regions, at the conference.
Sweden topped the EF EPI, scoring 70.72 and knocking last year’s top-scorer the Netherlands into second place with a score of 70.31.
Speaking at the conference, David Bish, director of academic management, EF Education First, said that this year’s report was the biggest league table to date; the process included 1.3 million test-takers, recording a 30 percent increase over the past year.
There are 13 new entrants in the index this year: Afghanistan, Albania, Belarus, Bolivia, Croatia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Honduras, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Senegal and Uzbekistan.
Lebanon has been added to the index for the first time, and is the top performer in the Middle East, ranking 33 globally with its score of 55.79, which has helped to lift the overall average of the region slightly.
Scoring 43.65, Saudi Arabia is ranked 83rd in the world, ahead of Afghanistan, Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Iraq and Libya.
Bish said that the English language is predicted to play a bigger role in the region with initiatives that aim to diversify the economy, investment in jobs and the education system.
Of Saudi Arabia, he said: “We have seen it improving over the last four years and making progress in the region’s index.”
Sharing some of the key findings, he said that Europe remains the global leader in English proficiency, with eight of the top 10 spots in the ranking. Africa had shown strong gains in English proficiency, with South Africa ranking sixth globally. Other rankings were: Nigeria (29), Senegal (39), Ethiopia (54), Egypt (62), Morocco (67), Tunisia (68), Algeria (81) and Libya (88).
Women continued to outsmart men in English skills worldwide, the index showed.
Bish told Arab News that the EF EPI was based on three tests. These are online tests using an EF scale of 1 to 80 in line with a common European frame of reference, and scores are put together to give an average score for each country.
“We need more than 3,000 people to take the tests before we prepare the index,” he said.
The EF EPI is based on test scores from the EF Standard English Test (EF SET), the world’s first free standardized English test. Thousands of schools, companies, and governments worldwide use the EF SET for large-scale testing.
EF EPI research finds that countries and individuals continue to invest in English education, recognizing the importance of the language as a lever for competitiveness.
Speaking at the conference, Jan Knutsson, the Swedish ambassador, expressed happiness about his country returning to the top spot.
For a country wishing to do the best in education, economy, trade and commerce, proficiency in English is key, he said.
Abdulrahman S. Alfuraih, general supervisor of English language at the Ministry of Education, said knowing the methodology and how it is prepared was important in building better results.

“We are improving and working continuously to further improve,” he said, adding that English is linked with the job market and so it is important to gain proficiency in it.
The ministry is working on an “English for All” program, he said.
There is also “Khebrat,” a teacher professional development program provided by the ministry for teachers of all subjects that aims to qualify Saudi cadres to take leadership in public education through training abroad at the best learning centers.
The teachers are sent to the US, the UK, Australia and New Zealand to join the academic program and improve their proficiency. When they return they share their experiences with students to help in teaching and assessment.