Washington – Saudi Arabian Airlines is seeking to once again become the largest carrier in the Middle East and efforts are being made to achieve this goal, announced Dr. Ghassan Abdul Rahman al-Shabal, chairman of the board of directors of the state-owned airlines.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat: “Great steps have been made to bolster its standing and role as a main player in the national economy.”
To that end, he added, the airlines have reached a deal that will see it purchase 30 new Airbus and Boeing planes that will be delivered in 2017.
This is part of a plan to expand the fleet from 128 planes to 200 by 2020, revealed al-Shabal.
Moreover, “the airlines transported 30 million passengers in 2016 and aspires to transport 45 million by 2020, meaning a growth of 50 percent, which is not an easy feat,” he continued.
His remarks were made in wake of his participation in the US-Saudi CEO Summit for government and private companies that was hosted by Washington on Wednesday.
He spoke of US companies’ “great interest and eagerness” to invest in and create commercial partnerships with private Saudi companies after they were reassured of Riyadh’s determination to go ahead with completing its privatization and reform plans in order to attract foreign investors.
Focusing on the transport sector, al-Shabal explained its importance in bolstering the national economy, highlighting Saudi Vision 2030’s goal to transform the kingdom into a transfer point between East and West.
“This demands the existence of a highly competent transportation sector,” he stressed.
Discussions at the Washington summit therefore focused on various cooperation opportunities, he revealed.
“There is no doubt that the US and American companies have high technical and administrative capabilities due to the experience they have accumulated in various fields over the years,” he noted.