Sama Chief Vows To Fulfill Commitment To Customers

RIYADH, 28 March 2008 — Prince Bander Ibn Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the board of directors of Sama airline, promised continued operations of the low-fare Saudi carrier here yesterday, while contradicting rumors that the carrier would close down its service and end operations in near future because of the soaring aviation fuel prices.

“The reports about the closure of the airline are highly misleading and untrue,” said the prince.

The Sama chief said that the airline maintains its ability and strong position to continue its full-fledged operations and fulfill its commitment to its customers. He expressed his full confidence in the growth of the booming Saudi economy, which he said “has been made possible because of the visionary leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan, who spare no effort to look after the Kingdom and its citizens’ well-being”.

Sama, he said, had flown more than 500,000 passengers since its launch in March 2007 until the end of December. The number of passengers carried by Sama will exceed one million within a few weeks from now, said Naif Yahya Abu-Saida, a Sama spokesman, here yesterday. Naif, while giving an overview of the Sama operation, said that the airline aims to reach 10 million passengers by 2010 with its ongoing expansion plan in terms of the number of flights to different national and international destinations.

This low-budget Saudi airline was founded by Investment Enterprises Ltd., chaired by Prince Bandar, with the support of Mango Aviation Partners, a UK firm specializing in low fare airline start-ups. Initial investment was received from 30 major Saudi private and institutional investors including Olayan Financial Co., Xenel Industries Ltd., Saudi Industrial Services Co., Sara Development Company Ltd., and Modern Investment Company for Trade and Industries.

Referring to the position of Sama as a premier low-budget airline, Prince Bandar said: “The airline receives all kinds of support from the General Authority of Civil Aviation that has enabled Sama to commence services to international Arab destinations; which in turn contributed to our revenue”. “We in Sama as Saudi investors express our gratitude to GACA for their efforts and renew our commitment to provide the best services to passengers on Sama Airline,” he added.

Referring to Sama’s performance and position as the newest low-fare carrier, Andrew Cowen, Sama chief executive officer, said: “this airline has six Boeing 737-300 aircraft as well as a Jetstream for the operation of regional services. These are maintained to the highest international standards.” He said that Sama plans to increase its fleet to 30-35 aircraft by 2010. “Sama’s mission is to emerge as the most preferred low-fare airline in Middle East,” added Cowen.

He pointed out that Sama has more than 400 employees and it is important to note that 50 percent of them are Saudi nationals.

“The airline is consistently improving on all fronts since it launched its first flight on March 18 last year,” said Sama CEO, adding that Sama operates more than 300 weekly flights. It currently flies to 12 domestic destinations including Dammam, Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah, Abha, Jizan, Hail, Arar, Jouf, Tabouk, and Rafha.

Cowen said that Sama also operates international (charter) flights to eight international destinations across the Middle East, namely Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Amman, Damascus, Latakia, Aleppo, Beirut, and recently Alexandria. Fares on these sectors begin from as low as SR229, he noted. Anyone can make booking and pay by cash or credit cards to Sama for purchasing tickets. One can also buy ticket by using ATMs and its Sadad network, he said.

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