Saudi Arabian Airlines, the state-owned carrier, say it is on target to complete a privatization by the second quarter of 2013, a company executive said.
“Saudi Arabian Airlines is a major state-owned organization involved with many activities. It’s privatization is not an easy task with delays being quite natural,” said Abdullah al-Ajhar, vice president of public relations.
He added that the airline has appointed international experts and consulting firms to assisting in speeding up the privatization process.
The airline appointed international consultants to speed up the process, al-Ajhar said. Privatizing the state-owned carrier’s catering, cargo, ground services, aviation academy and maintenance units was initially scheduled for completion last year.
The privatization of catering and cargo is complete, while the ground services unit is expected to be finished by year-end, he said.
The company is preparing for the privatization of its core unit by modernizing its fleet and developing its technical infrastructure, said al-Ajhar. It is presenting a proposal to the country’s Supreme Economic Council to finish the process, he said.
“Due to many factors, it (the process) will take its own time, however I am hopeful that within one or two years the whole process would be completed,” he added.
The airline’s fleet upgrade has become a major strategic objective of Saudia in order to maintain its leading position in the industry.
“We have already signed major deals to purchase 88 new aircraft including 35 Airbus 320s, 15 Airbus 321s, 8 Airbus 330s, 22 Boeing 777-300s and 8 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Among them, 48 planes include 32 Airbus 320s, 8 airbus 330s and 5 airbus 321s have entered the airline’s domestic and international network, bringing the total number of aircraft on its fleet to 125,” Al-Ajhar said,
The airline said that their major task into 2012 is to become a member of the international SkyTeam Alliance.
“We have already signed an initial agreement with the alliance. SkyTeam membership will enable Saudi Airlines to make use of the alliance’s 898 stations in 169 countries and its 420 lounges for first and Business class passengers, Al-Ajhar concluded.