|Nas Air is ‘doing a JetBlue’ by adding the Embraer 190 to its fleet to operate on thinner routes where the A320s are too large.|
On 17 February 2007 the first low-cost airline based in Saudi Arabia took to the skies when Nas Air launched flights from its base at Riyadh to Jeddah. The airline beat its local rival Sama into the air by a month and since then both airlines have expanded their fleet and domestic networks.
Taken over PSO routes from Saudi Arabian Airlines
At the start of the winter schedule Nas Air reached an agreement with Saudi Arabian Airlines to take over several Public Service Obligation (PSO) routes in accordance with the air traffic privatisation act. A total of 15 destinations are served directly non-stop from Riyadh with the highest frequency routes being Jeddah, Hail and Gassim which are each served four times daily. Another seven domestic destinations are served from Riyadh with frequencies varying between six and fifteen times weekly. A total of 21 destinations are now served across the kingdom.
Expansion includes Airbus and Embraer jets
Last November the airline, owned by National Air Services, announced two separate aircraft orders. It confirmed its commitment to take 20 A320s and also took purchase rights on a further 18 of the type. Delivery of these aircraft is due to start in 2012. To complement these aircraft Nas Air has also signed up with the manufacturer for five Embraer 190s (plus various options and purchase rights) and will acquire three E190s (114 seats) and two E195s (118 seats) from GECAS. The first of these aircraft should start flying for the airline later this month.
International routes are the airline’s next target and if it can secure government approval it hopes to start serving destinations such as Beirut, Cairo, Damascus and Dubai. Sama already operates a limited number of international routes on a charter basis.