Jeddah : Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) reported what it described as significant growth in passenger traffic in the first half of 2018.
In an operational update, the airline said it had carried approximately 17 million passengers in the 1H, up 8 per cent compared to the same period in 2017. The number of flights rose 4 per cent.
In a breakdown of this figure, the airlines said international passenger numbers grew 12 per cent, while domestic passenger traffic grew 3.7 per cent.
Last year, the airline carried 32 million passengers.
One component of the airline's passenger growth is the steadily increasing number of flights bringing Muslims to Saudi Arabia for the Haj and Umrah pilgrimages.
However, the size of the domestic market is also expanding. The country has a young population, many of whom have significant disposable incomes and are readily inclined to travel. Providing for this expanding passenger base has been a continued focus for the national carrier.
"The growth of business opportunities and leisure travel-within the kingdom and beyond-has been a core driver to offer our guests additional flight choices, with convenient journey times," Saudia DG Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser said.
Saudia is in the middle of its SV2020 Transformation Programme, under which it plans to increase its fleet to 200 aircraft by 2020, as well as introduce a range of service enhancements and new products.
It has around 150 aircraft, but this number is growing rapidly, with 70 new aircraft having arrived in the past three years-30 in 2017 alone-to both replace older aircraft and expand the fleet.