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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 11/05/2013

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Saudi Arabia's nasair expects up to 50 per cent growth in revenues and passengers in 2013 over 2012, chief executive officer Captain Francois Bouteiller told Khaleej Times in an interview during Arabian Travel Market.

The low-cost carrier will be one of the launch customers when Dubai's new Al Maktoum International Airport will start passenger service in October this year.

The airline will add 10 new aircraft in its fleet this year and expect another six next year, according to Bouteiller.

"We carried almost three million passengers in 2012 and expecting 4.5 million passengers in 2013," the chief executive said.

Since the launch in February 2007, nasair transported more than 11 million passengers through more than 110,000 flights. Its 950 flights per week network cover 88 routes both within and outside Saudi Arabia.

"We have been growing since the inception of the company in 2007. We witnessed almost 40 per cent growth in 2012 from 2011. We are looking for another 50 per cent growth in 2013, whether it's number of passengers or revenues.

Talking about the competition with a new proposed domestic airline in the Kingdom, he said: "It's not known what will be the offer, but its fine. Competition is good as the market size is quite large.

During the ATM, Qatar Airways confirmed that the carrier will launch domestic operations in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a year time with bases in Jeddah and Riyadh. Initially, the service will be started with 10 narrow-body aircraft.

Bouteiller said: "We already have very strong presence in Saudi Arabia. We run with very high load-factor of 85 per cent on domestic routes."

Talking about its operations out of the new airport in Dubai, he said: "It will definitely be a challenge to start from Dubai World Central (DWC). But that will be important to serve the business travellers."

"We believe that this launch will encourage increased air traffic to the Middle East, especially to Dubai, and further afield to neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia," he added.

The airline plans to operate more than 50 flights per week between Dubai and a number of destinations in Saudi Arabia.

"We look forward to offering our passengers even more flexible services with the assistance of another airport in Dubai while we maintain our long-standing flights from Dubai International," he explained.

He mentioned that the airline covers all GCC countries and also operate in Pakistan. "We serve Peshawar, Lahore and Islamabad," he said, adding that carrier is very keen to touch Karachi, but it will take time.

"Karachi is a very big market and the type of aircraft we have is not a perfect fit for Karachi," he explained.


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