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Saudi airline to join Skyteam

Skyteam has announced its first middle eastern member, Saudi Arabian Airlines, will join in 2012.

The carrier will bring 35 new destinations to the alliance network, including Alexandria and Islamabad, via its hubs in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.

Leo van Wijk, Skyteam’s chairman, said Saudi Arabian Airlines’membership of Skyteam would enable the alliance to compete “more efficiently” within the region.

“Saudi Arabian Airlines is a significant player in the Middle East and covers a considerable part of the Arabian pensinsula and the Indian subcontinent,” he said.

The Saudi airline is currently undergoing a “turnaround programme”, to be completed in 2013, which includes modernisation of its infrastructure and restructuring of its network.

Saudi Arabian Airlines is also modernising its fleet with 88 new aircraft, including eight Boeing Dreamliners and 12 Boeing 777s.

While the Saudi airline is the first new future member in 2011, Skyteam announced five future members in 2010: China Eastern, Shanghai Airlines, China Airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Aerolineas Argentinas.

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