Saudi domestic flights buck Mideast air travel slowdown

Saudi domestic flights buck Mideast air travel slowdown
Weekly domestic flights in the Kingdom have grown to about 3,000. (Supplied)
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Updated 10 March 2021

Saudi domestic flights buck Mideast air travel slowdown

Saudi domestic flights buck Mideast air travel slowdown
  • The Middle East has been particularly hard hit by the global aviation slowdown

DUBAI: Saudi domestic airlines are seeing a quicker recovery in routes within the Kingdom than larger regional rivals relying on pandemic-paralyzed long haul travel.
The CAPA Live aviation industry event on Wednesday heard that the Kingdom’s domestic airline sector was recovering strongly in sharp contrast to most of its neighbors.
The Middle East has been particularly hard hit by the global aviation slowdown because of its comparatively under-developed domestic market.
In 2019, the region had the lowest share of domestic air capacity, with just one in five seats on offer defined as an internal flight — compared to a global average of 59 percent, CAPA said.
It has meant that countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon and Qatar have not been able to rely on domestic flights to keep planes in the air. However larger countries in the region such as Saudi Arabia and Iran have bigger domestic markets to fall back on.
“The domestic recovery in Saudi Arabia is already showing positive signs, in frequency terms at least,” said CAPA analyst Richard Maslen.
Weekly domestic flights in the Kingdom have grown to about 3,000 according to CAPA data.
That represents a decline of just 23 percent over the first two months of the year compared to the same period a year ago before COVID restrictions hit.
Earlier flyadeal CEO Con Korfiatis told the consultancy that the Saudi low cost carrier was offering schedules with frequencies just 10 percent lower than this time last year.