Bander Almohanna - CEO flynas
Bander Almohanna, Managing Director and CEO of flynas, was speaking at ATM. (File picture used) Image Credit: flynas

Dubai: Saudi budget carrier flynas announced “massive” expansion plans for the UAE on the sidelines of the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) on Monday. Effective September 2024, flynas will add Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Al Maktoum Airport (DWC) to its network operated from flynas’ main bases in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, and Madinah, the airline said.

The airline said that this increases the number of routes between Saudi Arabia and the UAE to nine, and flight frequencies have increased to more than 20 daily flights.

Bander Almohanna, Managing Director and CEO of flynas, said, “We have doubled our fleet size in less than two years to keep up with our growth and cater to the growing low-cost travel market in the region. This aligns with our growth and expansion plans and Saudi Arabia’s National Civil Aviation Strategy.”

The national strategy enables Saudi-based air carriers to connect KSA with 250 international destinations, accommodate 330 million passengers, and host 100 million tourists annually by 2030.

With the latest expansion plans, the UAE market will be served with flights from the four flynas operation bases around the Kingdom. The airline operates flights to Dubai International Airport from Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, and Madinah.

The low-cost carrier will add flights to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai from King Khalid International Airport (RUH) in Riyadh, to Shaikh Zayed International Airport in Abu Dhabi from King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah (JED) and Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport (MED) in Madinah, as well as to Sharjah International Airport from both Jeddah and Madinah.

flynas connects more than 70 domestic and international destinations with more than 1500 weekly flights and has flown more than 78 million passengers since its launch in 2007. It aims to reach 165 domestic and international destinations.

Last month, the Saudi-based budget carrier said it is looking to acquire 30 widebody aircraft to expand its network and enhance competition with regional competitors.

According to Almohanna, the budget carrier has sent a request for proposal (RPF) to aircraft manufacturers without specifying details of the models under consideration. The airline's fleet has four A330 widebody aircraft.

The airline also confirmed plans for an initial public offering (IPO) later this year. It had revenues of SR6.3 billion in 2023, an increase of 32 per cent compared to 2022. This is the first time flynas has revealed the size of its annual revenues amidst confirmed reports that the company is planning an IPO in 2024.