ROUTES: Flynas to start US flights in 2015

Marseille
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Flynas is planning to triple its Airbus A330 fleet to 12 aircraft by 2017 as the Saudi Arabian budget carrier aims to expand its new long-haul operations to Africa and North America.

On 6 April, the Riyadh-based airline started long-haul flights with A330s wet-leased from Portuguese operator HiFly on 6 April, said commercial strategy director Clayton Ulisses Begido at the Routes Europe summit in Marseille. The initial fleet will comprise four aircraft, but this is set to grow to 12 A330s within “three years at maximum”, he says.

Initial destinations include Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Casablanca, as well as London and Manchester. Paris will be added too, but Begido says negotiations with the French capital’s airport operator still need to be finalised. While the airline wants to fly to Charles de Gaulle, the operator has proposed using Orly, he says.

From 2015, Flynas plans to operate routes to the USA. Negotiations with airports, including Chicago and New York, are due to begin in September.

North America is one of three key regions – the others being Africa and Europe – on which the airline wants to focus for its long-haul network growth. Flynas is particularly targeting Muslim customers travelling to Jeddah to visit nearby Mecca, says Begido.

The airline wants to build up Jeddah as a hub for long-haul passengers to connect with the airline’s existing short-haul network. While the A320 fleet should still follow its current point-to-point business model, Begido says the airline also wants to build up a hub model for its long-haul traffic.

He adds that the airline wants to offer customers a “two for one”-style service, where religious travellers could combine connecting flights via Jeddah with a pilgrimage visit to Mecca.