EMERGING from talks with HRH Prince Fahad bin Abdullah Al Saud over new opportunities in the country, Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar Al Baker says the Kingdom’s aviation policies needed a ‘fundamental rethink’.
The major carrier boss says he "expressed particular concern over excessive fuel charges in the Kingdom and the government’s policy of controlling domestic air fares".
Capping airfares, he says "will never allow any airline to operate commercially in the Kingdom" and he blamed the cap for the demise of Sama Airlines.
He stressed that other firm operating flights within Saudi Arabia were facing the same rising costs, adding that they ‘needed to be seriously addressed’.
Al Baker says: ‘Qatar Airways was keen to invest in the Saudi domestic aviation market, but this was dependent on a fundamental rethink by the government of certain factors, which needed to be tackled.’
Qatar has seen rapid growth in just 15 years of operation, currently operating a modern fleet of 109 aircraft to 117 destinations from its Doha hub.
On 30 June Qatar Airways Cargo landed its first load in Budapest from a wide body Airbus 300F.
That route will run twice a week between Budapest and Doha providing a direct connection with the middle East and indirectly to the Far East.
Since the beginning of the year, the airline has launched flights to Baku (Azerbaijan); Tbilisi (Georgia); Kigali (Rwanda); Zagreb (Croatia), Erbil (Iraq), Baghdad (Iraq) and Perth (Australia).