Pakistan’s PIA outlines ‘aggressive’ plan to boost flights to Saudi Arabia

A Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777 taxiing at Manchester International Airport. (Shutterstock)
Updated 30 September 2018

Pakistan’s PIA outlines ‘aggressive’ plan to boost flights to Saudi Arabia

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), the country’s cash-strapped national carrier, says it plans to boost the number of flights it operates to Saudi Arabia to more than 60 a week.
The airline, which is struggling servicing its debt, is looking to business growth in the Kingdom, with routes to the Kingdom its largest source of revenues.
“PIA has an aggressive plan to boost its presence in Saudi Arabia. We will be increasing our flights to more than 60 per week and opening new destinations,” Musharraf Rasool Cyan, the president and CEO of PIA, told Arab News.
He was speaking on the eve of the newspaper’s launch of its Pakistan digital edition,
Cyan has vowed to revive the carrier, which the Pakistan government has opted to privatize in a bid to recover from heavy losses the airline has amassed over many years.
He said Saudi Arabia has always been very important to the airline, which currently has 55 weekly flights to the Kingdom. It flies to four destinations, with 28 flights a week to Jeddah, 10 to Dammam, nine to Madinah and eight to Riyadh.
Cyan said that by mid-2018, PIA will be launching flights to new destination Al-Qassim with three flights per week. In addition to that the carrier will be adding one flight each to existing routes to Jeddah, Madinah and Riyadh.
“This will comprise more than 60 fights to Saudi Arabia thus making PIA the biggest operator from South Asia to Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Cyan said PIA plans to open an office in Taif in western Saudi Arabia very soon. He added that, besides passenger travel, PIA has finalized a plan to enhance its cargo business in Saudi Arabia, something likely to increase trade between the countries.

‘Disappointed’ billionaire brothers urge new talks on Saudi bid for Newcastle FC

Updated 42 min 53 sec ago

‘Disappointed’ billionaire brothers urge new talks on Saudi bid for Newcastle FC

  • The Reuben brothers want to buy 10 per cent of the club as part of PIF takeover
  • Brothers remain 'totally supportive' of the deal should there be a way forward

DUBAI: Another big financial backer of the £300 million ($390 million) bid for Newcastle United football club has come out in favor of a takeover led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

The Reuben brothers, multibillionaire businessmen who want to buy 10 per cent of the club, said on Monday they were “very disappointed” when the bid was withdrawn late last week after months of stalling by the Premier League in England.

“We would welcome any resurrection of talks and progress with the Premier League and are aware that the Reuben brothers remain totally supportive of the deal should there be a way forward,” said a statement from their company, Arena Racing.

The brothers’ renewed support for the deal will raise the pressure on Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive, who has remained silent since the takeover offer was withdrawn last week.

PIF made no secret of its disappointment and frustration that the Premier League — which has the duty to approve or reject a takeover of a member club  — has reached no decision since contracts were exchanged on the deal in April that would give the Saudi sovereign wealth fund 80 per cent of the 128-year-old club

Amanda Staveley, the British financier who has been at the heart of the deal and would have bought the remaining 10 per cent, also wants to see the deal revived.

The Reuben brothers, who already run two horseracing courses in the northeast of England, said: “We were planning on creating one of the premier sporting hubs in the UK, undertaking development work that is vital for the region and enjoying valuable synergies with the football club.

“We continue to hope that those exciting plans are not in vain.”