Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) has awarded SaudiGulf Airlines an air operators certificate (AOC) following a three-year certification process.

It is not clear when Qatar-backed Al-Maha Airways, which won a licence to offer domestic and short-haul flights in Saudi Arabia alongside SaudiGulf Airlines in 2012, will be awarded its AOC.

Saudi Arabia’s first budget airline, Flynas, achieved its first year of profitability in 2015, following a loss-making eight-year period since it was founded. As a result, the carrier has put forward plans to procure some 100 aircraft to replace and expand its 26-strong fleet.

Airport passenger traffic in Saudi airports rose by 10 per cent in 2015.

Gaca has put forward a broad and ambitious initiative to privatise all of the kingdom’s airports by 2020.

It selected Ireland’s Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) for a full concession of the new Terminal 5 at Riyadh’s King Khaled International airport (KKIA) earlier this year, and is expecting to receive offers from international operators for the long-term operations and maintenance (O&M) contract for Jeddah’s expanded King Abdulaziz International airport (KAIA) this week.

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