Saudi Arabian confirms intention to join SkyTeam

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Saudi Arabian Airlines has become the latest Middle Eastern carrier to sign up for alliance membership, after formally agreeing to join SkyTeam next year.

The Jeddah-based flag-carrier had been tipped as a likely member of SkyTeam during the Arab Air Carriers Organisation conference last October.

Saudi Arabian Airlines will bring 35 new destinations to the SkyTeam network.

"Through the exchange of services and knowledge between all member airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines can achieve qualitative improvements, made available to our customers," says director general Khalid Al-Molhem.

"These include airport services, ground services and first-class and business-class passenger lounges."

He says SkyTeam will provide "excellent connections to most parts of the world" for the airline's passengers.

Saudi Arabian Airlines is undergoing a corporate restructuring programme, including privatisation of several divisions, as well as an extensive fleet modernisation.

"Saudi Arabian Airlines is a significant player in the Middle East and covers a considerable part of the Arabian peninsula and the Indian subcontinent," says SkyTeam chairman Leo van Wijk.

"Its membership in SkyTeam will enable us to compete more efficiently within the region."

SkyTeam has 13 members but China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Aerolineas Argentinas have all pledged to become future SkyTeam partners.

Within the Middle Eastern region Star Alliance has EgyptAir as a partner while Royal Jordanian Airlines is a member of the Oneworld group. Lebanese flag-carrier Middle East Airlines has also been planning to join SkyTeam.