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Emirates Vs. Saudia In The USA  
User currently offlinevin2basketball From United States of America, joined Dec 2009, 352 posts, RR: 0
Posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 22 hours ago) and read 4772 times:

Sorry about the Flickr pics for the graphs, but my picture uploader to a.net has some bugs so...

One of the more ignored impacts of Emirates’ explosive growth, is what it has done to Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia)’s US operations. Following TWA’s absorption into American, and the end of all their services to the Middle East; Saudia had a unique opportunity in my opinion. On the basis of their large presence at JFK alone, Saudia had become the de-facto choice for the quickest connections to the Middle East. With the right sort of visionary management, they could have ramped up their operations to the US, positioning themselves to capture a lion’s share of one of the fastest growing air links in the world. Had they done so, Jeddah today may have been much like Dubai; or it may have replaced it.

That being said, Saudia is still a very big airline. They handle around 20-25 million passengers per year, and serve 76 far flung destinations around the globe. So in honor of that, I’d like to take a look at just how they match up in terms of the US. Currently, Emirates has daily flights to 4 destinations in the US; Houston, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Saudia serves just 2; New York, and Washington, on a less than daily frequency. The capacity differences are even more stark, as evidenced by the chart below.


Some Observations:

-In 2005 (Year 1), Emirates was around 3 times the size of Saudia to the US; by 2009 (Year 5), they were 8 times as large

-Emirates grew by over 400% over the period, Saudia 200%

-At current growth rates, Emirates should hit 1 million annual seats to the US by 2016-2020
The annual passenger counts:


-Again, steady growth here for Emirates; the addition of Los Angeles and San Francisco, where loads are very strong really helped the 2009 numbers.

-Emirates generally represent the trends in US traffic over the period, spectacular growth in 2005-2007, a tightening of the belt in 2008, and renewed optimism/pent up demand in 2009.

-Saudia on the other hand, has completely bucked general traffic progression. 2007, a fabulous year for travel saw their lowest passenger total during the period, and they more than doubled their passenger counts at the bottom of the recession in 2008.

-While Saudia is nowhere in the same hemisphere as Emirates in terms of total, passengers, my bet is that they focus on high yielding O&D passengers, whereas Emirates attacks the low margin and high volume connecting folks.

The loadfactors also reflect the above statements:


Now, the one common destination between both airlines is JFK. So lets take a look at the weekly seats into JFK for each airline.


-Again, I’m surprised that Saudia dropped capacity in 2007, but they did add a lot of capacity between 2008 and 2009. One of the things that has to be mentioned, is that the figures for 2008 and 2009 include flights from Jeddah and Riyadh, while 2005-2007 do not.

-Emirates more than doubled its capacity to JFK between 2005 and 2007, but 2008 and 2009 have seen decreases in capacity. It would seem as though Emirates is looking to de-centralize their US operations, and this should continue into the foreseeable future as they add more destinations. But why was their strategy so JFK centric, especially considering their lack of a local partner for feed?

Here are the loadfactors to JFK for each airline


5 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlinechepos From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2000, 6383 posts, RR: 10
Reply 1, posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 4685 times:

Comparing SV and EK in my very personal opinion is like comparing apples to oranges. EK was created with the vision of bringing people to DXB, eventually the airline grew by leaps and bounds and made DXB into a hub connecting all corners of the world. SV is an airline that was created to connect the Kingdom to some essential parts of the world were either there is alot of traffic to the KSA and to connect it with key political allies (USA).. The difficult entry requirements alone would have made JED a very difficult point for connections, and in all honesty JED and DXB are two very different cities. Some people flying on EK might take a day or two to visit Dubai, not alot of people would want to spend a day or two in Jeddah or RUH. The Middle East already has 3 super powers (EK, QR and EY) with Oman Air as a distant 4th runner, I dont really think the region needs another airline catering to connections and flying to every corner of the world.



[Edited 2010-08-02 18:35:13]

[Edited 2010-08-02 18:41:05]

Fly the Flag!!!!
User currently offlineGlobalCabotage From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 689 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 4645 times:

Saudia Arabia and the UAE are two different markets and the restrictions / lack of restrictions are part of the reason.

There is minimal O&D between the US and Saudia Arabia, plus it is difficult to get a visa to the Kingdom. The UAE, on the other hand, is much more open and has open skies with the US and DXB is a great connecting hub for US-Middle East / Sub Continent / SE Asia traffic. Don't be surprised to see EK in IAD, ORD, MIA, DFW, BOS, SEA in the next 5 years.

User currently offlineeta unknown From Comoros, joined Jun 2001, 2299 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 21 hours ago) and read 4606 times:

SV is not interested in transit traffic. Period. Moot point postulting on what SV management should/could have done.
And Saudi embassies aren't thrilled about granting transit visas- they used to tell pax to cancel the SV ticket and fly another airline.

If you want to compare EK's apples to another airline's apples, and why they can't fully exploit North America, think KU, or the short-lived JFK/IAH shocking disaster that was GF.

EK JFK centric: you don't need feed when flying to a city with a catchment area of over 10 million people. Yes, they did consider EWR specifically for connection options, but still opted for JFK.

[Edited 2010-08-02 18:41:58]

User currently onlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 29484 posts, RR: 24
Reply 4, posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 4538 times:

Quoting vin2basketball (Thread starter):
That being said, Saudia is still a very big airline.

Based on 2009 RPMs/RPKs, SV wasn't even in the top 30 of the world's largest airlines.

Being based in a country with such restrictive visa policies and almost no western tourism, SV would have never been able to copy EK's business model. Many western passengers also avoid carriers from the stricter Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, if only because they don't serve alcohol. And I can't see SV ever changing that policy.

Saudi Arabian bilaterals are also much more restrictive than those negotiated by the UAE, many of which are Open Skies agreements with no restrictions on the number of carriers, frequencies, cities served, and with unrestricted 5th freedom rights.. The USA-Saudi Arabian bilateral is still very restrictive and their bilateral with Canada only gives Saudi carriers rights to serve YUL.

User currently offlinebehramjee From Canada, joined Aug 2003, 5354 posts, RR: 47
Reply 5, posted (5 years 10 months 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 4255 times:

You dont need a transit visa to transit from say JFK to DXB if flying via JED or RUH on Saudia Airlines. So if SV really want to create a proper hub & spoke business at either JED or RUH, there are no such transit visa restrictions.

JED is a bit too far south and sees enough O&D + high volume religious traffic. The best airport to create a hub for SV is RUH as its newer, capital of the country and has the highest number of premium passengers.

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