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The cuts were as much as 45 per cent of recent airfares, Okaz newspaper said. Image Credit: SHUTTERSTOCK

Cairo: Airlines in Saudi Arabia have reduced airfares for domestic flights hours after the kingdom’s civil aviation authorities announced measures to curb hikes in rates of such flights, local media reported.

The cuts were as much as 45 per cent of recent airfares, Okaz newspaper said.

The kingdom’s national carrier, Saudia, unveiled significantly reduced prices for domestic flights by Tuesday evening, i.e. hours after the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) announced the measures, according to Okaz.

The report noted that a Riyadh-Jeddah premium hospitality flight now costs SR833 compared to SR 1,316 while early booking starts from SR270 instead of SR830.

The airline Tuesday launched an operational plan for the Muslim Eid Al Fitr holiday, due next week, featuring increases in the number of flights and seating capacity to cope with high demand, a Saudia official said.

“Therefore, there are more options in terms of destinations and prices,” Abdullah Al Shahrani, the head of the carrier’s media affairs, told Okaz.

GACA announced Tuesday it had taken a package of measures conducive to review of air transport pricing as well as increases in seating capacity and number of flights.

The steps, according to GACA, aim to guarantee availability of suitable airfares to passengers, enhance competitiveness in the air transport sector and protect travellers’ rights.

“The Authority has recently noticed a change in the price pattern of some air ticket categories and closely followed reports about rates of domestic airfares,” GACA said in a statement on its Twitter. The agency did not disclose specific measures.

Saudi media has recently reported hikes in fares of domestic flights due to a surge in numbers of travellers interested in performing Umrah or lesser pilgrimage in the final 10 days of the current holy Islamic month of Ramadan, and the Eid Al Fitr holiday that follows it.

Saudi newspaper Al Watan this week said that some residents in Saudi areas near Jordan have recently preferred to fly to Jordan and from there flew to the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah for an Umrah journey because airfares between the two destinations are lower by more than half of the rates available in Saudi Arabia to fly to Jeddah.