(MENAFN - Arab News) The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said yesterday it would provide additional incentives to companies qualified to bid for a new airline license apart from incentives offered in the past.
GACA also said that it was still working on specifications and conditions a company has to fulfill to win the license. "We have not yet completed it and hopefully it would be ready by the end of April," it added.
Fourteen companies have expressed their intent to obtain the license after GACA announced in January its plans to open up the Kingdom's skies.
The companies included those fully owned by Saudis, Gulf-Arab firms and consortiums of Saudi-Gulf and Saudi-Chinese companies, GACA said, adding that they enjoyed aviation experience and financial capability.
"We'll review their applications and study their financial capabilities in preparation for submitting the document of Request for Proposal (RFP) by the end of April," GACA said.
The RFP will contain detailed information about airports, cities, markets, passenger movement and tender procedures. GACA will invite the applicants for an open meeting to attend presentations to be made by GACA experts and foreign consultants. It will also organize a program for the applicants to visit the Kingdom's airports and cities.
GACA invited on Jan. 21, 2012 tenders from airline companies and investors to operate domestic and international flights from Saudi airports.
GACA said it would provide airline companies that make the best offer with all facilities to operate domestic and international flights successfully.
"We'll not insist that they operate from specific airports and will give them multiple options, including free selection of domestic routes," it said.
A licensed company will have the freedom to choose any Saudi airport as its hub and also to operate international flights. "Licensed airline companies will be able to operate international flights within the limits of bilateral agreements," GACA added.
Saad Al-Ahmad, an aviation consultant based in Riyadh, said it was for the first time Saudi Arabia was opening up its skies to foreign airlines and investors. He said the move would not affect Saudi Arabian Airlines as the national carrier has been operating domestic flights at heavily discounted rates.