Second Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Aviation, and Inspector-General Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, in his capacity as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saudi Arabian Airlines, inaugurated in Jeddah today the Prince Sultan Academy for Aviation Sciences. In his address on the occasion, SAA’s Director-General Dr Khalid bin Bakr reported that the national carrier, which transported over 14 million passengers in each of the years 2002 and 2003, will next week break the record, exceeding 15 million for 2004. During last Hajj season, he said, SAA transported more than 900,000 pilgrims; for the upcoming 1425 Hajj season, the number is expected to rise to 1,040,000 passengers from 86 international stations.
During the first nine months of this year, SAA has increased its revenues to the highest level in its history and 13 percent above those of last year. New high-tech services recently provided by the company include an automated round-the-clock reservation service. Also, the rate of Saudization had been 94 percent, higher than the targeted plan.
At a press conference following the ceremony, Prince Sultan confirmed that with the new Academy, pilots will no longer be sent for training abroad; announced plans for enhancing King Abdulaziz International Airport; and commented on employment opportunities for Saudi women in the national airline. To a question on privatization, he said extensive feasibility studies are required before any such move.