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|Company slogan||Welcome to your world|
|Parent company||Saudi Arabian government|
|Headquarters||Jeddah, Saudi Arabia|
Saudi Arabian Airlines (الخطوط الجوية العربية السعودية) operating as Saudia (Arabic: السعودية as-Saʿūdiyyah ) is the flag carrier airline of Saudi Arabia, based in Jeddah. The airline reverted to its abbreviated English brand name Saudia (used from 1972 to 1996) from Saudi Arabian Airlines (historic name in use until 1971 and reintroduced in 1997) on 29 May 2012; the name was changed to celebrate the company's entry into the SkyTeam airline alliance on that day, and it was a part of a larger rebranding initiative. It operates domestic and international scheduled flights to over 90 destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. Domestic and international charter flights are operated, mostly during Ramadan and the Hajj season.
The airline's main operational base is at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED). Other major hubs are Riyadh-King Khalid International Airport (RUH), and Dammam-King Fahd International Airport (DMM). The new Dammam airport was opened for commercial use on 28 November 1999. Dhahran International Airport in use until then, has reverted to being used as a military base.
Saudia is a member of the Arab Air Carriers Organization. The airline joined the SkyTeam airline alliance on 29 May 2012. The airline used to be the largest carrier in the region, but because of the growth of other airports and airlines has become the third largest, behind Emirates and Qatar Airways.
When U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt presented a Douglas DC-3 as a gift to King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud in 1945, the event marked the Kingdom's gradual development of civil aviation. The nation's flag carrier, Saudia, was founded as Saudi Arabian Airlines in September 1946 as a fully owned government agency under the control of the Ministry of Defense, with TWA running the airline under a management contract.
From the beginning, Jeddah-Kandara airport—very near the town center-served as the flag carrier's main base. Among the airline's early operations was a special flight from Lydda in Palestine (today Lod in Israel, site of Ben-Gurion International Airport), a British Mandate at that time, to carry Hajj pilgrims to Jeddah. The airline used five DC-3 aircraft to launch scheduled operations on the Jeddah-Riyadh-Hofuf-Dhahran route in March 1947, followed by its first international service between Jeddah and Cairo also in that same month. Service to Damascus and Beirut followed in early 1948. The following year saw the first of five Bristol 170s being received. These aircraft offered the airline the flexibility of carrying both passengers and cargo.
The slow but steady growth continued during the 1950s and services were inaugurated to Istanbul, Karachi, Amman, Kuwait City, Asmara, and Port Sudan. The fleet also saw a small growth during the 1950s, with five DC-4s and ten Convair 340s, the first pressurized aircraft for the airline. In 1959, the airline's first maintenance center was inaugurated in Jeddah. Also during this decade, the very important air link between Jeddah and Riyadh saw improvement.
In 1962, the airline took delivery of two Boeing 720s, becoming the third Middle Eastern airline to fly jet aircraft, after Cyprus Airways with the de Havilland Comet in 1960 and El Al with the Boeing 707 in 1961. On 19 February 1963, the airline became a registered company, with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia signing the papers that declared Saudia a fully independent company. DC-6s and Boeing 707s were later bought, and the airline joined the AACO, the Arab Air Carriers Organization. Services were started to Sharjah, Tehran, Khartoum, Bombay, Tripoli, Tunis, Rabat, Geneva, Frankfurt, and London.
In the 1970s, a new livery was introduced. The carrier's name was changed to Saudia on 1 April 1972. Boeing 737 and Fokker F-28 equipment was bought, with the 737s replacing the Douglas DC-9. The first all-cargo flights between Saudi Arabia and Europe were started, and Lockheed L-1011s and Fairchild FH-27s were introduced. New services, including the Arabian Express 'no reservation shuttle flights' between Jeddah and Riyadh. The Special Flight Services (SFS) was set up as a special unit of Saudia, and operates special flights for the Royal family and government agencies. Service was also started to Rome, Paris, Muscat, Kano, and Stockholm. The Pan Am / Saudia joint service between Dhahran and New York City started on 3 February 1979.
Some services opened during the 1980s for the airline, such as Saudia Catering. Flights were started to Athens, Bangkok, Dhaka, Mogadishu, Nairobi, New York City, Madrid, Singapore, Manila, Delhi, Islamabad, Seoul, Baghdad, Amsterdam, Colombo, Nice, Lahore, Brussels, Dakar, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei. Horizon Class, a business class service, was established to offer enhanced service to passengers. Cargo hubs were built at Brussels and Taipei. Airbus A300s, Boeing 747s, and Cessna Citations were also added to the fleet, the Citations for the SFS service. To conclude the decade, services were introduced in 1989 to Larnaca and Addis Ababa. On July 1, 1982, the first nonstop service was inaugurated from Jeddah to New York with the airline's Boeing 747SP aircraft. This service, along with the Riyadh-New York service introduced later.
In the 1990s, services were introduced to Orlando, Chennai, Asmara, Washington, D.C., Johannesburg, Alexandria, Milan, Málaga (seasonal), and Sanaa (resumption). Boeing 777s, MD-90s and MD-11s were introduced. New female flight attendant uniforms designed by Adnan Akbar were introduced. A new corporate identity was launched on 16 July 1996, featuring a sand colored fuselage with contrasting dark blue tailfin, the center of which featured a stylized representation of the House of Saud crest. The Saudia name was dropped in the identity revamp, with Saudi Arabian Airlines name used.
On 8 October 2000, Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, the Saudi Minister of Defense & Aviation, signed a contract to conduct studies for the privatization of Saudi Arabian Airlines. In preparation for this, the airline was restructured to allow non-core units—including Saudia catering, ground handling services and maintenance as well as the Prince Sultan Flight Academy in Jeddah—to be transformed into commercial units and profit centers. In April 2005, the Saudi government indicated that the airline may also lose its monopoly on domestic services.
On 31 December 2012 Saudi Arabian Airlines announced service to two new North American destinations- Toronto; which will start third or fourth quarter of 2013, and Los Angeles by the first quarter of 2014. They will be introducing their 777-300ERs on the inaugural flight to Los Angeles (LAX).
Passengers and recorded a 14% rise in profits. In April the following year the airline ordered 15 Embraer E-170LR aircraft in a deal worth $400 million.
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In 2006, Saudia began the process of dividing itself into Strategic Business Units (SBU); the catering unit was the first to be privatized. In August 2007, Saudi Arabia's Council of Ministers approved the conversion of strategic units into companies. It is planned that ground services, technical services, air cargo and the Prince Sultan Aviation Academy, as well as the catering unit, will become subsidiaries of a holding company.
Saudia has codeshare agreements with the following airlines (as of June 2013):
|Airbus A320-200||35||—||0||12||132||144||HZ-ASF painted in SkyTeam livery|
|Airbus A330-300||12||4||0||36||262||298||4 operated by Onur Air|
|21||434||10 operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic
2 operated by Orient Thai Airlines
|Boeing 777-200ER||23||—||24||38||170||232||HZ-AKA painted in SkyTeam livery|
|Boeing 787-9||—||8||TBA||Entry into service: 2015|
||2 operated by Veteran Avia|
||Operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic||Boeing 747-400BCF||2||—||
||Operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic|
||Operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic
and Evergreen International
|McDonnell Douglas MD-11F||4||—||
|Saudi Royal Flight|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-90||1||—||VIP|
On its new introduced Boeing 777-300ER (designation — 77W) Saudia has:
- 6-abreast (2-2-2) first class.
- 6-abreast (2-2-2) business class
- and 10-abreast (3-4-3) economy class,
using these planes on medium-haul, long-haul and ultra-long haul routes.
Introduction of new aircraft
Saudia Special Flight Services, VIP flights, and Private Aviation operate the following, a number of which sport the airlines livery
- 6 Beechcraft Bonanza (training)
- 2 Dassault Falcon 900 (government use)
- 2 Dassault Falcon 7X (charter)
- 6 Gulfstream IV (government use)
- 6 Hawker 400XP (government use)
Some military C-130s are also painted with the Saudia colors and are flown by Royal Saudi Air Force crews to support Saudi official activities in the region and Europe.
The inflight magazine of Saudia is called Ahlan Wasahlan (Arabic: أهلاً وسهلاً "Hello and Welcome"). No alcoholic beverages or pork are served on board in accordance with Islamic dietary laws. On most flights during Ramadan before the Maghreb prayer (sunset prayer), when fasting people break their fast, refreshments are served for passengers who are not fasting. On flights during sunset, a box is served containing food and drinks like Laban, water, samosa, dates, etc. then an announcement is made when fasting passengers can break their fast and eat. Commonly served on flights shorter than 3 hours.
Incidents and accidents
- On 25 September 1959, a Saudia Douglas DC-4 HZ-AAF crashed shortly after take-off from Jeddah. The cause of the accident was pilot error followed by a stall. All 67 passengers and 5 crew survived.
- On 9 February 1968, a Douglas C-47 (Registration HZ-AAE) was damaged beyond economic repair at an unknown location.
- On 10 November 1970, a Douglas DC-3 on a flight from Amman Civil Airport, Jordan to King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was hijacked and diverted to Damascus Airport, Syria.
- On 11 July 1972, a Douglas C-47B (Registration HZ-AAK) was damaged beyond economic repair in an accident at Tabuk Airport.
- On 19 August 1980, Saudia Flight 163, a Lockheed L-1011-200 TriStar, operating Karachi-Riyadh-Jeddah, was completely destroyed by fire at Riyadh airport with the loss of all 301 people on board due to delays in evacuating the aircraft. This was the deadliest accident experienced by Saudia until 312 were killed in the loss of Flight 763 over 16 years later.
- On 22 December 1980, Saudia Flight 162, a Lockheed L-1011-200 TriStar, operating Dhahran to Karachi, experienced an explosive decompression, penetrating the passenger cabin. The hole sucked out two passengers and depressurized the cabin.
- On 12 November 1996, a Saudia Boeing 747-100B, operating flight 763, was involved in the 1996 Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision. The aircraft was on its way from New Delhi, India, to Dahran, Saudi Arabia when a Kazakhstan Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 collided with it over the village of Charkhi Dadri, some miles west of New Delhi. Flight 763 was carrying 312 people, all of whom, along with 37 more on the Kazakh aircraft, died, for a grand total of 349 fatalities. The loss of Flight 763 alone remains Saudia's worst accident in terms of fatalities. The accident overall also remains the world's deadliest mid-air collision and the third-deadliest aviation disaster in history, as well as the deadliest one with no survivors.
- On 23 August 2001, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia,a Boeing 747-300 (Registration HZ-AIO) suffered nose damage as it entered a monsoon drainage ditch while it was being taxied by Maintenance staff from the hangar to the gate before a return flight to Saudi Arabia. None of the six crew members on board at the time were injured.
- On 8 September 2005, a Boeing 747 traveling from Colombo to Jeddah, carrying mostly Sri Lankan nationals to take up employment in the Kingdom, received a false alarm claiming that a bomb had been planted on board. The aircraft returned to Colombo. During the evacuation, there was a passenger stampede in the wake of which one Sri Lankan woman died, 62 were injured, and 17 were hospitalized. The aircraft had taken on a load of 420 passengers in Colombo. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, the probable cause was a "Breakdown of timely and effective communication amongst Aerodrome Controller and Ground Handling (SriLankan Airlines) personnel had prevented a timely dispatch of the stepladders to the aircraft to deplane the passengers in a timely manner, which resulted in the Pilot-In-Command to order an emergency evacuation of the passengers through slides after being alarmed by the bomb threat."
- On 25 May 2008, a leased aircraft operating under Saudi Arabian Airlines as Flight SV-806 from Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport, Madinah made an unscheduled landing at Zia International Airport (now Shahjalal International Airport), Dhaka. During the roll the tower controller reported that he saw a fire on the right hand wing. Upon vacating the runway, the crew received a fire indication for engine number three. The fire extinguisher was activated and all engines were shut down. The aircraft, a Boeing 747-357, which was damaged beyond repair, was successfully evacuated. Only minor injuries had been incurred. Investigations determined a fuel leak where the fuel exits the front spar for engine number three.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Saudi Arabian Airlines.|
- Saudia official website
- Ahlan Wasahlan inflight magazine
- Saudi Arabian Airlines: The Jewel of the Middle East, Boeing