Saudia bolsters private fleet

 - December 5, 2010, 11:08 PM

The opportunity for "travel in record-breaking time" along with 24/7 service is the promise of Saudia Private Aviation (Chalet A3), and the Saudi Arabian Airlines subsidiary has certainly been tooling up for the task over the last two years.

Here at the last MEBA show in 2008 Saudia signed for six mid-size Hawker 400XPs, the model billed by manufacturer Hawker Beechcraft as the fastest light jet in its class. The last pair of Hawkers was delivered in Jeddah at the beginning of May; seating up to nine passengers, they can cruise at up to 450 knots.

Another deal sealed here in Dubai, this time at the 2007 Dubai Airshow, covered the sale of four Dassault Falcon 7Xs, with options for a further three. The order was attributed at the time simply to "a customer in Saudi Arabia," but at the European Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition in Geneva in May, Dassault Falcon delivered the first of four Falcon 7X trijets to SPA.

The airplane was the 75th 7X that Dassault has delivered, and the first to a customer in Saudi Arabia. Its range of 5,950 nm makes it capable of nonstop flights on routes such as New York to Riyadh, Dubai to Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro to Jeddah. "The Falcon 7X was carefully chosen out of many options because of its excellent technical specifications and performance," said Wajdi Abdullah Al-Idrissi, the airline's vice president royal and VIP affairs and head of SPA. "It is a unique plane that can fly nonstop for more than 11 hours and does not require a long runway, which saves valuable time by being able to land at [less trafficked] airports." It also conforms to the high taste of their royal and VIP clients, he said.

"Though SPA was carved out of Saudi Arabian Airlines only last year," Al-Idrissi added, "our long experience spans more than 60 years in VIP aircraft chartering, leasing, management and consultation, as well as ground handling." The operator is the successor to Saudia Special Flight Services.

In addition to offering speed and range, SPA provides ample capacity in private aircraft able to carry up to 400 passengers. Al-Idrissi said in June that the company's launch followed thorough market studies showing constant rising demand for private aviati