Low-cost Saudi carrier Flynas will launch its first European route, to London, in April, followed by a second to Manchester in May.
From April 8, the airline will operate a three-times weekly, non-stop flight from Jeddah to London Gatwick, served by a two-class A330.
Flight XY21 will depart Jeddah on Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 0430, 0445 and 0410 respectively, landing in London at 0910, 0925 and 0850.
Return service XY22 will leave LGW at 1050, touching down in Saudi Arabia at 1905.
Sulaiman Al Hamdan, group CEO for NAS Holding, said: “Selecting London was a logical choice given its position as one of the key commercial capitals of the world.
“London and Saudi Arabia inherently enjoy historic bilateral ties through education, tourism and business. Through the entry of Flynas to the UK capital we hope to reinforce these ties and capitalise on them.”
From May 2, Flynas will start a thrice-weekly A330 service between Jeddah and Manchester.
Flight XY25 will depart Jeddah at 0355 on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays, landing in the northern city at 0845. Return flight XY26 will take-off from Manchester at 1015, touching down in Saudi Arabia at 1855.
Both 164-seat A330s will be configured with 156 economy class seats, each with a 32-inch pitch and flexible fares that include a checked luggage allowance of 30kg.
Raja Azmi, CEO for Flynas, said he primarily hopes to attract business passengers by “creating demand through prices”.
This is the first time Saudi Arabia will be served by a low-cost carrier, with promotional economy class fares available from SAR 999 (£160) and business class fares from SAR 3,999 (£642).
Flynas currently has a fleet of 27 aircraft, of which three are A330s wet-leased from Portuguese company Hifly.
Azmi said that in the future, the carrier is intending to invest in its own long-haul planes, expanding its fleet to 60 aircraft by 2020, with a third being wide-bodies operating on point-to-point routes. As part of its long-term vision, it also hopes to be moving 20 million passengers annually in six years’ time.
Following the trend for low-cost carriers charging for extras, passengers will have the option to buy food and drink, lounge access, ground transport, excess baggage, amenity kits and extra in-flight movies.
At the front of the plane will be eight angled lie-flat business class seats each with 60 inches of legroom, in-flight “Comfort Packs” and newspapers. Passengers will also be provided with iPads that have content streamed from an online system.
In addition, premium passengers will get lounge access, fast-track services, and two pieces of checked luggage (30kg total) and flexible booking and rescheduling options.
As privately owned Flynas is an Islamic airline, no alcohol is available on board.
The two UK routes are “expected to prove particularly lucrative for the carrier given the high demand for affordable fares to popular European destinations from the Middle East, of which London continues to command the largest share of inbound traffic”, read a press release from Flynas.
It also stated: “In addition to leisure travel, which dominates inbound tourism from Saudi Arabia, Flynas flights are also expected to serve the high volume of business travel between the two nations, as well as offer affordable fares to the UK’s significant Muslim population, for whom Saudi Arabia continues to be a key destination for religious tourism.”
Azmi said: “The expansion of our network to include destinations that are seen as high-growth markets is a key element of our strategy to lead the airline into a new chapter of aggressive development.
“It’s no surprise that the UK was the first country to be picked in Europe for the expansion of our route network. London continues to feature at the top of Saudi Arabia’s most popular outbound destinations.”
Al Hamdan said: “The launch of Flynas non-stop flights will add to capacity on this high traffic route. We expect to capture the air passenger segment from both countries that appreciates a high value offering, through the introduction of the new concept of Low Cost Carrier Plus, which will allow passengers to enjoy affordable travel to international destinations while choosing from a range of services and in-flight entertainment.”
Azmi added that, at the moment, Jeddah-KAIA airport is “not the best” but by next year, the new King Abdulaziz International will be open, meaning it will be a “much more attractive proposition for transfers and connections to other countries in the region such as Egypt, Kuwait and Malaysia”. (For more information, click here).
Other destinations that to be rolled out as part of Flynas’s Global Flight Routes programme include Paris, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Karachi and Casablanca.