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Kingdom further opens up skies
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 23 - 08 - 2008

Singapore and Saudi Arabia Friday signed a new air agreement which will allow any number of air services to operate between the two countries.
With the new deal, airlines may operate up to 14 services between Singapore and other points in Saudi Arabia, including Jeddah and Riyadh, according to a statement from the Singapore Transport Ministry.
Airlines of both countries have also been granted permission to operate services between the other country and selected cities in third countries with 5th freedom traffic rights.
Under the previous agreement, carriers were only allowed to operate three weekly services between Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
Singapore Airlines currently operates three weekly services from Singapore to Jeddah via Abu Dhabi, while Saudi Arabian Airlines operates two weekly services from Jeddah to Singapore via Riyadh.
The new agreement to expand air services comes following air services consultations between the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of Saudi Arabia and Singapore's Transport Ministry, held from Thursday to Friday.
The Singapore delegation leader, Choi Shing Kwok, Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Transport, said in the statement: “Increased air services would encourage greater people-to-people interaction and support the growth of economic linkages between the two countries.”
Under the agreement, carriers may also operate up to 14 flights per week between Singapore and other points in Saudi Arabia, including Jeddah and Riyadh.
“Airlines of both countries have also been granted permission to operate services between the other country and selected cities in third countries,” a ministry statement said.
Previously carriers were only allowed to operate three weekly flights between Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian federal government has signed new bilateral air service agreements (BASAs) with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Aviation sources, who pleaded anonymity, said on Thursday that Director of Air Transport Management, Federal Ministry of Aviation, Dr. Imoro Kubor, led the team to Dubai, UAE to conclude the deal.
This is coming at a time when some industry analysts are saying that the country is not profiting from the over 70 BASAs signed with various countries across the globe.
These agreements are viewed as skewed in favor of other countries.
According to the sources, the new agreements grant three Middle East airlines 25 frequencies per week into Nigeria.
Specifically, the agreement now grants three extra Lagos frequencies and new Abuja entry point of seven frequencies to Emirates, two entry points of 14 frequencies per week to Etihad Airlines, and a one-weekly frequency to Saudi Airlines.
The pact, the sources said, would allow Emirates fly daily to both the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Also, while Etihad will fly into both MMIA and NAIA everyday, Saudia will fly into the Mallam Aminu International Airport, Kano on a weekly basis.
Local aviation experts, who spoke to our correspondent, said the agreements would spell doom for the country's domestic carriers, as the foreign carriers that had been granted multi-point entry into the country would airlift the passengers they ought to be carrying.
Former president, National Cabin Crew Association of Nigeria, Olumide Ohunayo, said such a pact would aid the hub status of the country if given entirely to Lagos.
According to the statistics from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the royalty earned from European and foreign carriers between 2000 and 2005 was approximately $89 million, while remittance by foreign carriers within the same period was $1.2 billion.
The figures showed that Nigeria lost over N133b billion during the period alone.
In a related development, Sama Airlines, a low-fare airline in Saudi Arabia, has announced two new international routes between Riyadh-Asiut, Egypt and Dammam-Beirut, starting from Sept. 1, 2008.
Sama Airlines said that its network is now increased to cover 10 international cities with 23 international routes departing from Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah.
Flights to Beirut depart from Dammam twice weekly, and flights to Asiut depart from Riyadh three times weekly.
Samer Atawi, chief commercial officer of Sama, said: “Sama is the only airline flying directly from Saudi Arabia to Asiut, our first route was from Jeddah, and now from Riyadh to serve all Egyptian society in Saudi Arabia and Egyptian citizens in Asiut and southern Egypt. Sama launched inaugural fares for these two destinations, fares start from SR390 for Riyadh-Asiut and SR290 for Dammam


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