Saudia sale will be troublesome: chief

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Privatisation of Saudia's main carrier operation will be a problematic affair owing to operating constraints, its chief believes.

Speaking during the Arab Air Carriers Organization conference in Doha, director general Khalid Al-Molhem said a sell-off remains a long-term target because it "makes much better sense" to be "away from government".

But he adds that the main airline "will be very difficult to privatise" given the restrictions it faces in the domestic route market.

Al-Molhem says serving this market is the "biggest challenge" for the Saudi Arabian carrier, because it has to cope with government price caps.

Private investors, he believes, would be discouraged by this situation, in the same way that other carriers do not want to serve these routes.

"Nobody wants to lose money," he adds.

But Al-Molhem expects "two or three" privately owned airlines to emerge in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia's government has already privatised a number of the airline's associated aviation services.