flynasCEO of Saudi Arabia-based flynas, Raja Azmi, has predicted its enhanced low cost model (LCC+) will reap rewards by offering non-stop routes in to the Kingdom from international markets as an alternative to one-stop services on other regional carriers.

The Jeddah-based airline launched a three-times weekly A330 direct service from Jeddah to London Gatwick last month – its first European route – as part of an expansion strategy that aims to connect Saudi Arabia to Manchester, Paris, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Karachi and Casablanca.

Speaking at Arabian Travel Market, Azmi said flynas had amended its business model from that of a traditional LCC to accommodate demand from the regional market:  “We had added a dedicated business class as the market in the Middle East is different to that in Asia or Europe, for example.”

While high fuel costs and a cap on domestic airfares handicap competition in the Saudi market, Azmi said the airline was tapping in to a variety of markets through a strategy that combined hub/spoke and point to point operations, low cost operations with a value proposition.

“Saudi Arabia has the biggest domestic market in the region but other GCC carriers are carrying (religious) tourists in to the country – we need our share of that market and can offer short haul connectivity with our new long haul routes.”