By Abdel Razek Al-Shuwekhi
Saudi airline Flynas is looking to capture 30% of pilgrims flying between Egypt and Saudi Arabia annually, said Bander Al-Mohanna, Deputy CEO of NAS Holding.
The launch of its latest route between Cairo and Jeddah, the seventh destination on the airline’s list, is likely to boost its share of passengers.
Al-Mohanna added that the addition of the seventh destination to its itinerary makes Flynas the only foreign company that flies to seven destinations in Egypt
According to Al-Muhanna, up to 3.5 million workers, tourists and pilgrims move between Egypt and Saudi Arabia each year.
According to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, approximately 1 million Egyptians travel to Saudi Arabia on pilgrimage each year.
The company launched a direct route between Cairo and Jeddah with several trips per day at the beginning of June. The company’s destinations in Egypt include Cairo, Alexandria, Assiut, Sohag, Luxor, Aswan and Sharm el-Sheikh.
NAS Group Holding, the parent company of Flynas, currently has capital of SAR 3.7bn (EGP 7.05bn).
Flynas has been able to place itself in a leading position amongst Gulf airlines within its first seven years, transporting 3.3million passengers on its routes over the past year. The company saw a surge in revenues by 40% in 2013 from the year before.
The company has a fleet of 27 aircraft flying to 26 destinations within Saudi Arabia and abroad with over 950 flights per week.
“Flynas is looking to fly 4 million passengers on its air routes by the end of 2014,” said Raja Azmi, company CEO.
Al-Mohanna said the company aims to transport 20 million passengers on its aircraft by 2020 by launching new routes worldwide. He added the company is working to increase the number of aircraft in its fleet to 70 by using operating leases.
Al-Mohanna added there will be further opportunities for growth in the airline’s share of pilgrims in the future. He tied this in with expansions to the Grand Mosque in Mecca, conducted under King Abdallah bin Abdulaziz, and as the capacity of the mosque increases.
Al-Mohanna noted there are huge development projects underway at Saudi airports, especially at the Jeddah airport, which is expected to be completed in 2016.
He said the airline’s transit passengers “represent a very small percentage of total passengers, and the company is working to raise this proportion to 15% of total passengers during the next five years.”
“The company is looking to transport 70,000 passengers on its Cairo-Jeddah route by the end of the year,” said Sharif Amer, General Sales Manager for Flynas.
Amer expects the Cairo-Jeddah line to be popular amongst passengers due to the marketing scheme the company plans to launch in the near future, highlighting quality of services.