Qatar Airways has expressed interest in launching an airline registered in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
In a first step, chief executive Akbar Al Baker has held talks with Prince Fahad bin Abdullah Al Saud to discuss opportunities arising from the Kingdom’s newly-launched aviation liberalisation policy.
With a market that is underserved and keen for greater domestic air services, Al Baker said the Kingdom represented a key growth area.
However, during the meeting, he expressed particular concern over excessive fuel charges in the Kingdom and the government’s policy of controlling domestic air fares which, he said, were not in the interests of the travelling public nor airline operators.
Al Baker said such factors were detrimental to airlines as fuel represented a major cost of operations.
Capping airfares, he said will never allow any airline to operate commercially in the Kingdom, citing the demise of domestic carrier Sama Airlines due to such measures.
He stressed other airlines operating domestic flights within Saudi Arabia were facing the same problem of rising costs, pointing out these needed to be seriously addressed.
Al Baker said Qatar Airways was keen to invest in the Saudi domestic aviation market, but this was dependent on a fundamental rethink by the government of certain factors which needed to be tackled.