The airline will be SkyTeam's first member from the Middle East and Saudi Arabian Airlines will add 35 new destinations to the alliance's global...

Saudi Arabian Airlines, the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, has agreed to join the SkyTeam alliance in 2012.

The airline will be SkyTeam’s first member from the Middle East and Saudi Arabian Airlines will add 35 new destinations to the alliance’s global network.

Saudi Arabian Airlines will offer SkyTeam customers access to destinations across the Middle East not currently served by other SkyTeam-alliance member carriers. Through Saudi Arabia’s major hubs Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam, SkyTeam travelers will be able to connect to new destinations on the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian subcontinent and Northern Africa. Examples are Alexandria, Aden, Colombo and Islamabad.

On July 14, 2008 Saudi Arabian Airlines signed a firm contract for the purchase of eight A330-300s as part of its fleet-modernization plan, which (as of January 2011) will involve the airline adding a total of 88 new aircraft from Airbus and Boeing

SkyTeam says its other member airlines will have access to new potential customers from the region as a result of Saudi Arabian Airlines’ direct flights to Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. Saud Arabian’s customers will be able to transfer to SkyTeam partner flights via hubs such as Paris, Rome, Nairobi and New York JFK. SkyTeam partner China Southern also offers regular connections to Asia from Jeddah.

Saudi Arabian Airlines is focused on a four-year turnaround program, to be completed by 2013. Key elements of this plan include modernization of its infrastructure, restructuring of its domestic and international network and implementing a fleet modernization plan by acquiring new aircraft.

“The SkyTeam network provides our customers with excellent connections to most parts of the world,” says Eng. Khalid Al-Molhem, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines. “Through the exchange of services and knowledge between all member airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines can achieve qualitative improvements, made available to our customers. These include airport services, ground services and First Class and Business Class passenger lounges.”

“Saudi Arabian Airlines is a significant player in the Middle East and covers a considerable part of the Arabian Peninsula and the Indian subcontinent. Its membership in SkyTeam will enable us to compete more efficiently within the region,” says Leo van Wijk, chairman of SkyTeam.

“Announcing our first new member in 2011 clearly illustrates the continuing global expansion that we accelerated last year,” remarks Marie-Joseph Male, SkyTeam’s managing director. “In 2010, China Eastern and its daughter company Shanghai Airlines, China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Aerolineas Argentinas all confirmed their future membership in SkyTeam. Adding Saudi Arabian Airlines will definitely complement our network offer to our customers.”

It has 13 current members: Aeroflot, Aeromexico, Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, China Southern, Czech Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Air, TAROM and Vietnam Airlines. SkyTeam offers its 385 million annual passengers a worldwide system of more than 12,500 daily flights to 898 destinations in 169 countries and its member airlines offer customers more than 420 lounges worldwide.

Since its establishment in 1945, Saudi Arabian Airlines has grown to operate a network linking 26 domestic and 55 international destinations. At present, it carries about 19 million passengers annually. During the last five years, Saudi Arabian Airlines has been undergoing a series of development activities on the basis of a strategic development plan which includes modernization of the airline’s technical infrastructure in its administrative, technical and financial functions.

Saudi Arabian Airlines is modernizing its fleet by taking delivery of 88 new aircraft. These include 35 Airbus A320s, 15 A321s, eight A330-300s, 12 Boeing 777-300ERs and eight Boeing 787s.

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