Saudia: old name for new
The Saudi Arabian flag-carrier has rebranded itself to its former identity of Saudia, perhaps an indication that tradition remains a vital aspect of business in this vibrant part of the aviation world. But now routes to new destinations are very much to the forefront as local carriers press on with their expansion plans.
Saudi Arabian Airlines has reverted to its previous Saudia branding, which was dropped in 1996. The airline was formally renamed Saudia at the same time as it became a full member of SkyTeam recently, making it the first carrier from the Middle East to join the global alliance.
"Joining SkyTeam is an integral part of Saudia's longterm transformation strategy, which includes rebranding our airline, restructuring core operations and enhancing on-board products and airport services," said Saudia director general Khalid al-Molhem.
Peter Scholten, vice president commercial at Saudi Airlines Cargo Company, the privately-owned stand-alone air freight wing of the carrier, comments: "We will be rebranding to Saudia Cargo after the summer period, around September, and we are continuing to upgrade our quality of services.
"We recently invited 30 leading freight forwarders from around the world to Jeddah so that they could see that things are really moving in the way we have upgraded our services, including the addition of an international call centre for our customers.
Scholten pointed out: "The fastest-growing part of our air freight business is in transit cargo. The geographic location we have means we can carry cargo from Europe, Asia, Africa and the US and then tranship it for onward carriage through our hubs in Saudi Arabia to and from any part of the globe."
He continued: "We are in the process of realigning the ACMI (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance) leases on our freighter fleet and this will give us much more flexibility in the way we work. By August we will bring back a parked B747-200 nose-loading freighter and reintroduce it to the fleet. This will give us a total of 13 freighters.
"The B747-200F is a great aircraft. For charter work it is a fantastic plane, especially down into Africa, where we are seeing huge growth. Africa is a place where the B747-400F or B747-8F is often not the right aircraft to use however," Scholten added.