Saudia Private Aviation, the charter arm of Saudi Arabian Airlines, is planning to quadruple its fleet over the next decade to cater for the burgeoning demand for business aircraft to and from Saudi Arabia.
The fleet expansion is part of a wider strategy by the two-year-old company to strengthen its service offering within the oil-rich kingdom, where it is also building a 6,400m2 (68,700ft2) fixed-base operation in its home base of Jeddah. A similar venture is also planned in Riyadh.
"We plan to expand our fleet to around 40 aircraft by 2020 through a mixture of aircraft management and outright ownership," says the company, which has a fleet of eight business jets - six light-cabin Hawker 400XPs and two Dassault Falcon 7Xs. Two more of the Dassault long-range types are set for delivery in June.
"We would like to add a further 10 owned aircraft and the rest of the fleet will be managed types," says SPA. The company also manages the Saudi air force's 28-strong fleet of VIP and cargo aircraft, including Cessna Citation business jets, a Gulfstream GIV and a Lockheed Martin C130. These aircraft are not available on the open charter market.
"We are looking for a mix of aircraft with short-, medium- and long-range capability as we expand our regional and international operations," the company adds.
A number of mid- and super-midsize types are under consideration including the Hawker 4000. SPA says it will expand its top-of-the-range offering to including airliner business jet such as the Airbus A318 Elite. "There is growing demand for long-distance travel and the VIP airliners with their large cargo bays are ideal for the Middle East market," says SPA.
Saudi Arabia accounts for around 75% of SPA's business within the Middle East, mainly as a result of lucrative business opportunities that have been created from the country's $500 billion investment programme to build new cities, and diversify the economy away from petroleum exports.
This, says SPA, has spawned huge demand for executive jets from the national and international business community as well an expanding home-grown wealthy elite.