British Airways will resume flights to Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia from March 29, 2009.
The airline will fly five times each week from Heathrow Terminal 5 to both Jeddah and Riyadh. Flights to Riyadh will operate on a Boeing 777 and Jeddah flights will be on a smaller Boeing 767.
This is definitely unwelcome news to British Midlands (BMI) who has stepped in to fill the gap vacated by British Airways four years ago. Riyadh is under-connected to the rest of the world. London and North America are favourite destinations for many Saudis. Thanks to its extensive transatlantic links, and global network, British Airways will have a significant edge over BMI.
British Airways will also have something that BMI does not have – a first class; and in a status concious society like Saudi Arabia, that is a huge differentiator.
Robert Boyle, British Airways’ commercial director, said: “Resuming these flights makes commercial sense. The oil market is increasingly important globally and inward investment into Saudi Arabia has risen considerably in the last couple of years.
“We can start these flights now because the aviation market between Britain and Saudi Arabia has recently been liberalised.”
British Airways suspended services to Riyadh and Jeddah in March 2005 claiming “poor commercial performance on the route”, but it is widely believed that security concerns were a major factor.