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Flynas appoints new CEO, focuses on regional traffic

Saudi carrier to focus on domestic and regional traffic after dropping long-haul network

Gulf News

Dubai: Flynas, the Saudi Arabian hybrid carrier, appointed a new chief executive earlier this month just weeks after announcing it was dropping its long-haul routes.

Paul Byrne, who was serving as a commercial consultant to the airline, replaced Raja Azmi earlier this month, the new chief executive told Gulf News in Dubai on Wednesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation’s Annual General Meeting, Byrne said he does not expect much to change at the airline under his stewardship, albeit without the scheduled long-haul services.

“They’ve got the right formula,” he said of his predecessor and his team.

Flynas has dropped long-haul flights to London Heathrow and Casablanca, Morocco, but will maintain “scheduled chartered” services to Malaysia and Indonesia for Umrah and Hajj traffic.

Byrne said he wants the hybrid carrier to grow in the regional and domestic market. He said there remains a significant market for pilgrimage traffic and transporting passengers around the Kingdom.

“We’re good at what we do with the [Airbus] A320,” he said.

The A320 is a narrow body aircraft used by the airline for short and medium-haul services.

Byrne has already identified Turkey as a high growth market for the airline. He said there is “huge demand” from passengers flying between Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

But the airline will also shortly move to start cutting select regional and domestic routes. Byrne declined to state which routes would be the first to go, however, said the airline will be adding frequencies on other routes.

Asked what the reasoning was behind the change in management given that the now former chief executive is staying on in an advisory role, Byrne said, “Raja is a busy man outside of Flynas.”

He further said that the airline is on track to break even at the end of 2015.

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