Khalid Almolhem, director general of the kingdom’s national carrier, has said that the company will introduce a surcharge of $100 on round trip tickets to Europe and South Africa. On return journeys within the Middle East a $90 charge will be applied.

Although all airlines worldwide are struggling with fuel costs and are seeking ways to pass them on their customers, Saudia enjoys heavily discounted fuel from the government. The national carrier currently pays about a quarter of the market rate.

The latest announcement is likely to cause controversy at home as Saudi Arabia’s low-cost carriers, Sama and Nas Air, are pressing the government to force Saudia to give up its discount to ensure fair competition.