Can Vueling succeed with new Arabia rights?

Carrier given permission to fly two frequencies a week

Vueling has been given permission by Spain’s civil aviation directorate to fly two frequencies a week between Spain and Saudi Arabia. It can operate from anywhere in Spain to Jeddah and/or Dhahran (via Dammam airport).

Spain’s bilateral ties with Saudi Arabia allow for seven weekly frequencies, but Vueling has so far been the only Spanish airline to apply.

Jeddah is the number one Saudi airport by seat capacity, Dammam number three. In its research, CAPA says that the Saudi market has some attractive characteristics. Saudia currently flies Jeddah-Madrid three times weekly – the only scheduled flights between the two countries.

Flights to Saudi Arabia would be cities would be much longer than any of Vueling’s existing routes. At more than 4,000 kilometres, they would be among the longest narrowbody low-cost flights in the world.

Vueling’s current focus is short-haul. Around 90% of its frequencies have less than 2.5 hours flying time. Its longest flights from Barcelona are to Banjul in Senegal, Moscow and Tel Aviv.

Vueling is also a low frequency carrier, best suited to leisure traffic. Only 12 of its 74 routes are more than daily. It would enjoy a monopoly on any flights between Barcelona and Saudi Arabia, tapping into unserved demand.

CAPA says that success on the route could point Vueling’s way to other markets in the Gulf region.

“The challenge would be to offer additional on-board comforts without significantly adding cost to the business or unduly distracting management,” the analysis says. “The ability to offer low fares profitably is key and this is an ability that Vueling has demonstrated in the past.”


[photo courtesy Vueling]

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