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Some two weeks after the Skyteam announcement, Saudi Arabian Airlines' deputy director told reporters that sales had increased 12 percent as a result of the carrier's strategic development programme. The strategy to privatise the airline and its operations has made headway with the carrier's ground services, catering and cargo divisions, according to Al-Hazmi. Other areas to have improved since the strategy was introduced include in-flight services and the fleet, with the carrier agree- ing to purchase 35 A320s, 15 A321s and eight A330s from Airbus, 12 Boeing 777s with an option for a further 10, and eight Dreamlin- ers. Of those orders, the carrier received its first A321 last October in Hamburg during a handover ceremony from Airbus. The plane has 20 business class and 145 guest class seats respectively and is equipped with mod- ern audio and visual entertainment systems and comfortable seating arrangements. This year, the carrier will focus on its technical and maintenance operations, im- proving services and increasing operational efficiency, boosting profits, and integration into Skyteam. It will also launch a mobile phone service that will initially allow pas- sengers to receive boarding passes, select seats and view flight schedules. Fliers will eventually be able to receive and pay for their tickets and reserve seats via their phones.

Airport expansion

News agency SPA revealed in February 2010 that the government had sanctioned a US$666 million investment in the Kingdom's airports. The project involves expand- ing 23 hubs, developing a new airport in Al Taif on the western mountains and extending Najran airport in the south. Among the hubs being redeveloped, King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah will be able to handle an additional 17 million passengers each year once the first phase is completed by 2012. A new terminal com- plex to replace the existing north and south terminals will be built at a cost of US$4.53 billion as part of the initial stage of develop- ment. When complete, the new 678,000 square metre complex will have 42 gates. Expansion is also taking place at Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz Airport in Medina to increase the hub's passenger capacity

(NAS), based in Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh. It was the first low-cost carrier to fly in the Kingdom, with domestic flights begin- ning on 25 February, 2007.

by 14 million every year up to 2016. The two-phase project involves building a new passenger terminal, renovating the existing runway and possibly building a second one. In late 2009, it was reported that Saudi's General Authority for Civil Aviation had ap- proved expansion plans for King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh. The project would involve improving passenger ser- vices and the hub's commercial opera- tions, and boosting its annual capacity to 25 million people, Prince Sultan bin Salman, President of Saudi Commission for Tour- ism and Antiquities, told reporters.

Budget carriers

Nas Air operates more than 450 weekly services via 14 aircraft to some 30 domestic and international destinations. The airline is a subsidiary of Saudi National Air Services

At just one year old the airline was already serving more than 20 destinations with low fare flights. In April 2008 the airline began to operate a fleet of brand new Airbus A320 and Embraer aircraft, giving it the youngest aircraft fleet in the Middle East. In January this year, the airline announced the launch of flights to Delhi as part of its regional and international expansion strategy. The service operates thrice weekly between Riyadh and New Delhi. Flights to Sohaj in Egypt have also been introduced following a period of rapid expansion that saw Nas Air add six other destinations (Aleppo, Khartoum, Dubai, Mumbai, Calicut and Cochin) to its network in 2010.

Simon Stewart, Nas Air CEO, said the air- line's aim for 2011 was to carry three million passengers, having welcomed two million on board the previous year.

The carrier added Embraer E190s to its growing fleet in December 2010, with three A320s scheduled to arrive by 2012.

Business class

First-class services are available with Saudi Arabian Airlines, which offers Arabic and western cuisine, flat-beds that recline 180 degrees, and entertainment systems with up to 40 movie, TV and radio channels. Pas- sengers in business-class are also treated to similar levels of in-flight entertainment and cuisine.

saudiarabia 2011

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