Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) is planning to increase the frequency of its domestic flights as it restructures its network.

The first phase of restructuring will involve increasing the number of flights between Riyadh and Dammam to seven daily flights from five daily flights at present. The kingdom’s national carrier will also increase the number of direct flights between Jeddah and Riyadh and will see the number of flights between Jeddah and Dammam rise to eight daily flights.

Saudia will also try and increase the traffic to other countries in the Middle East. The carrier will now operate 17 weekly flights to Beirut, up from 11, an additional five flights a week to Bahrain and will add four more flights a week to Qatar. Services to Sana’a in Yemen will rise to five weekly flights, up from three currently.

Saudia reported a 20 per cent increase in passenger traffic during the first six months of 2010, reaching 168,000 passengers compared to the year before.

In line with its restructuring plans, the airline will also begin phasing out its existing Boeing 747 aircraft with the more fuel-efficient Boeing 777 planes. Saudia is close to completing a SR7.2bn ($1.9bn) Islamic loan deal to fund the purchase of 70 new aircraft including 58 manufactured by Europe’s Airbus and 12 by the US’ Boeing. Delivery of the planes will be spread over several years with the final aircraft set to be received in 2014 (MEED 19:8:10).