Saudia Private Aviation (SPA) plans to open business-jet FBOs at Saudi Arabia’s four main airports–Jeddah, Riyadh, Dammam and Medina–within a year, according to company managing director Wajdi Al Idrissi. The facility at SPA’s Jeddah home base is expected to open next month.
SPA’s expansion is part of improvements being carried out by Prince Fahd bin Abdullah, newly appointed head of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), who is guiding a build-up in private aviation infrastructure in the country. A GACA spokesman told AIN that the agency is currently working on establishing private-sector FBO operations at all international airports in the Kingdom. “There are 350 business aircraft in Saudi Arabia, and we are trying to encourage them to work with us for ground handling and fleet management,” Al Idrissi said. He expects an IPO of SPA parent company Saudi Arabian Airlines, which serves Saudi Arabia’s entire 30-airport network and is owned by the Saudi government, “within three years from now.” The government will retain a 51-percent stake, while private investors will own 49 percent, Al Idrissi said. Saudia Private Aviation owns a fleet of 10 aircraft–six Hawker 400XPs and four Dassault Falcon 7Xs. This makes the private aviation firm the largest operator of the fly-by-wire trijet, according to Al Idrissi.