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Saudia to open domestic VIP A319 shuttle link

Middle Eastern carrier Saudia is to open a new VIP domestic service connecting the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh with the city of Jeddah.

The service, branded Al Bayraq, will commence operations in mid-February.

Al Bayraq will use Airbus A319s configured in a premium layout and will provide a high-frequency link, operating the round-trip route six times daily.

Saudia director general Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser says the service will be conducted in co-operation with Saudia Private Aviation.

He says the link, which will provide additional flexibility for business passengers, is part of the carrier's transformation programme to 2020.

Al-Jasser adds that the operation has potential to be extended to other routes in the future.

While the configuration of the aircraft has not been specified, Saudia says the A319 will operate 4,200 flights and provide some 200,000 seats annually – indicating an interior layout of around 48 seats.

The airline disclosed last month that it was leasing a pair of A319s from SkyTeam partner Czech Airlines, for use on domestic routes out of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam to several domestic destinations.

Saudi Arabia's National Air Services had previously established a similar VIP operation, known as Al-Khayala, which used 44-seat A319s to serve domestic and regional routes.

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