RIYADH: XO, an on-demand private aviation firm, reported a 298 percent year-on-year increase in membership during the first quarter of 2021, boosted by a “steep rise” in demand for flights within Saudi Arabia.
XO has taken the Uber business model approach and adapted it to private jets, allowing members to book private flights or individual seats on demand.
While the majority of its revenue and operations are in the US, it reported a 167 percent year-on-year rise in international membership during the first three months of this year.
While a breakdown of percentage growth for individual countries was not revealed, a company press statement said: “a steep rise in fights within Saudi Arabia, as well as increased regional travel within Europe and Africa, underpins XO’s ability to connect cities that are being underserved by commercial flights.”
Launched in 2006, XO is part of Dubai-headquartered Vista Global Holding, which operates private jet services to 187 countries around the world.
As part of its strategy to combat the spread of COVID-19, Saudi Arabia grounded all flights in March 2020. Domestic traffic resumed at the end of May 2020 and the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) recently announced that international flights will resume by May 17, 2021.
The Kingdom recorded a 110 percent month-on-month surge in people searching for flights in March, according to global online travel platform Skyscanner. The data showed that domestic flights within Saudi Arabia were the most searched for last month, followed by international destinations in India, Pakistan, the Philippines and Egypt.