Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier will become the first airline from the GCC to sign up to one of the major alliances when it joins Skyteam in 2012.
According to Skyteam, Saudi Arabian Airlines will add 35 destinations to the alliance network when it joins the fold next year. The carrier is currently in the middle of a four-year turnaround programme, due for completion in 2013, which includes the modernization of its infrastructure, the restructuring of its domestic and international network, and the implementation of a fleet modernisation plan.
Saudi Arabian Airlines recently signed a codeshare agreement with founder Skyteam member Air France (see online news December 15, 2010), and is also set to move over to Skyteam’s hub at Heathrow T4 in the near future, although this move has been delayed (see online news November 24, 2010).
Other carriers set to join Skyteam over the next couple of years include Garuda Indonesia, Aerolineas Argentinas, China Airlines, China Eastern amd its subsidiary Shanghai Airlines.
None of the flag carriers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are currently members of the three major airline alliances, although Saudi Arabia’s neighbour Jordan has a presence in the Oneworld alliance through Royal Jordanian Airlines.
Report by Mark Caswell