(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) transported over 25 million passengers in 2013, an increase of 913,264 or 3.75 percent from 2012, a senior official said recently.
Khaled Al-Molhem, director general of Saudia, said this was the most passengers transported in the 70-year history of the airline.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Al-Molhem said Saudia had achieved a record 90.46 percent accuracy rate in terms of its flight schedule in 2013, a 1.61 percent increase from the previous year.
He attributed this to the airline's enhanced operating systems and procedures, and its upgraded services at various locations and on board its aircraft.
Al-Molhem said Saudia plans to introduce three direct flights a week to Los Angeles from Jeddah and Riyadh at the beginning of March this year. This route would serve Saudi students studying on scholarship in the American city, and Arabs and Muslims visiting and living in the area.
In 2013, Saudia transported over 14.7 million passengers domestically, an increase of 516,579 or 3.64 percent from the previous year. Over 10.5 million passengers traveled on international flights, an increase of 396,685 or 3.91 percent from 2012.
Al-Molhem said these increased numbers show that there is rising demand for flights in Saudi Arabia. The airline was developing a long-term strategy to provide extra seat capacity to meet this demand.
He said the airline received 71 new aircraft for its fleet including Airbus 320, 321 and 330s and Boeing B777-300ER planes. The airline has been able to provide more trips from Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam and Madinah, he said.
In 2013, Saudi Arabian Airlines increased its flights by 6,095 trips or 3.55 percent to a record 177,435 domestic and international flights, compared to 171,341 trips in 2012.
In the domestic sector, the airline operated 115,864 trips in 2013 compared to 112,319 in 2012, an increase of 3,545 flights. The accuracy in the flight schedule was 91.57 percent in 2013, an increase of 1.46 percent from the previous year.
In the same year, the airline operated 50,063 flights internationally compared to 46,889 in 2012, an increase of 3,174 flights. The accuracy level was 90.04 percent in 2013, an increase of 1.85 percent from 2012.
Al-Molhem praised Prince Fahd bin Abdullah, chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) and chairman of the airline, for his support and guidance.
Over the past year, Saudia has focused on expanding its network of international and domestic flights, said Al-Molhem. It added three flights a week to Toronto in Canada on Oct. 28 last year.