The Saudi low-cost carrier, which launched early in 2007, hopes to bounce back after a year of soaring fuel prices by making a profit early in 2009.

“Nas Air is still making losses but we hope to break even early in 2009, though it is hard to assess with the current price structure in the local market due to the fare cap,” says Taher Agueel, chief executive officer of National Air Services, which owns the airline.

Nas Air and its low-cost rival Sama have suffered as a result of the fare cap on domestic routes which prevents them from passing fuel costs on to their customers. Sama has reduced the number of domestic flights to curb losses (MEED 23:9:08).

However, unlike Sama, which is solely a low-cost airline, NAS is a more diverse group combining private jet hire with the budget airline. With the market for executive aviation booming in the Gulf, losses at Nas Air have not been felt as much as its rival.

Nas Air has a fleet of seven aircraft, which will increase to 12 by the end of 2008. In total, the Nas group owns or leases 94 planes.

“Nas is certainly benefiting from the fact that it is not just a low-cost operation because other parts of the business are growing,” says Agueel.