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Formed in 2006 and started operations in 2007. Domestic, regional, & international, scheduled & charter, passenger & cargo, jet airplane services.
PO Box 361662
Riyadh 11313, Saudi Arabia
C/O al Wishkan Ltd
PO Box 14166
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
February 2006: Sama (SMA), a new Saudi low cost airline, is planning to be airborne within the next few months. The airline is looking to lease up to 7 737s by December and destinations at first will be Dammam, Jeddah, and Riyadh.
It plans to carry at least half a million passengers by the end of the year.
Sama, means "elevation" in Arabic. Specifically, it means "to rise (high), tower up, go up, to be or to become high, lofty, elevated, exalted or sublime."
Name and initial plans for a new Saudi Arabian low-fare airline announced last December and backed by Prince Bandar bin Khalid al Faisal as Chairman were unveiled. The carrier (SMA) will begin flying this summer with 737-300s. (SMA) will operate domestically initially to such destinations as Riyadh, Damman, and Jeddah, and eventually expand to other destinations in the Middle East.
(SMA) has the backing from Investment Enterprises, which is chaired by Prince Bandar bin Khalid al Faisal and about 30 other Saudi private and institutional investors, including Xenel Industries, Olayan Financing, and Saudi Industrial Services. (SMA) will be operationally assisted by UK advisory firm Mango Aviation Partners.
Its CEO is Andrew Cowen, who was Finance Director of Go Fly (GFL) prior to its takeover by easyJet (EZY), and he spent 10 years at British Airways (BAB) before being seconded to (GFL). He also participated in the management buyout of (GFL) from (BAB). Cowen subsequently formed Mango Aviation Partners in 2004 to export the low-fare concept.
(SMA) will operate its airplanes in a single-class configuration and will sell tickets via the Internet, reservations offices and travel agents.
(SMA), a low-cost airline in Saudi Arabia, selected the SafTGlo photoluminescent floor path marking system for its 737-300s.
March 2006: Sama (SMA) has entered into a multi-year agreement with InteliSys Aviation Systems (http://www.intelisys.aero) of America, a Canadian but Bahrain-based company as reservations system provider. IntelSys will provide (SMA) with its hosted passenger management and reservation system, which it markets under the trade name "amelia." InteliSys will deliver ots amelia RES module, supported by several companion modules.
1 737-3M8 (25016, ZK-FDM), ex-Freedom Air (SPT), Oasis International leased.
June 2006: Signs a five-year Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) contract with SR Technics (SWS).
August 2006: Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) confirmed that six companies are pursuing licenses to operate as commercial air carriers as part of the drive to liberalize air transport in the kingdom. Two are low-fare start up "Sama" (SMA) and business and corporate transport specialist National Air Services (NTJ). (GACA) identified the remaining four as travel group Al-Tayar, the Al-Mamlaka company operating as "Burj Airlines," Petrogal operating as "Al-Watan Airlines" and the Saudi Ikhwan trading company. Application evaluation will continue until September 30 with a decision scheduled by year end.
December 2006: 737-3M8 (25016, N33341) - see photo.
January 2007: Sama (SMA), a Saudi Arabian start up, said it was granted an air operating certificate (AOC) by the civil aviation authority. The airline plans to offer 737-300 service throughout the country and eventually to destinations in the Middle East. It has no plan to operate long-haul routes. "Our priority is to serve as many cities in Saudi Arabia as we can, with up to 35 airplanes over the next few years," board member, Hatim Mouminah said on the carrier's website. (SMA) also said it signed a Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) contract with SR Technics (SWS).
October 2007: Sama (SMA) is a low-cost airline providing scheduled domestic services linking Jeddah, Dammam, Gizan, Riyadh, and Maddinah.
Employees = 122.
(IATA) Code: ZS. (ICAO) Code: SMY - (Callsign - NAJIM).
Parent organization/shareholders: Investment Enterprises; Saudi private and institutional investors.
November 2007: (GE) Aviation (GEC) signed a 10-year, $51 million "OnPoint Solution" agreement with Sama (SMA) covering Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) of its (CFM56-3) engines. (SMA) first flew in March and now operates six 737-300s to 12 domestic destinations. It plans to operate 35 airplanes in 2010.
December 2007: Adopts revised colors - see photo, with the addition of two more 148 passenger 737-300s bringing its fleet to six.
SAMA (SMA) now serves Ad Dammam; Riyadh; Jeddah; Medina; Jizan; and Abha. Plans to add flights to Ha'il; Ae'ar; Tabuk; Ratha; Al Qurayyat; and Al Jawf.
(SMA) will launch thrice-weekly flights to Amman from Dammam and Riyadh on December 6. It is the Saudi carrier's third international destination.
March 2008: Alsalam Aircraft reached a deal with Sama Airlines (SMA) to provide "C" checks on 737-300s.
April 2008: Receives its 1 millionth passenger booking less than 13 months after starting service. More than half of its bookings have come through its website at: http://www.flysama.com.
July 2008: Sama (SMA), the year-old Dammam-based carrier, said shareholders have agreed to contribute an additional +SAR200 million/+$53.3 million in financing. SAR300 million was invested at start up and the company said its revenue rose more than >250% in the first half of 2008. It serves 12 Saudi and 10 Middle Eastern destinations.
August 2008: Sama (SMA) will launch twice-weekly, Dammam - Beirut and thrice-weekly, Riyadh - Asiut on September 1.
September 2008: Sama (SMA) announced a reduction in its domestic schedule, and the possibility of suspension of all domestic service, saying that "it is impossible . . . to make money on domestic routes despite high passenger demand and full airplanes" because of a fixed economy (Y) fare cap, that prevents the airline from adding fuel surcharges. "Even though we have adopted the low-cost airline business model, flying domestic routes has led to (SMA) incurring significant losses," it said, adding that its fuel purchasing is not subsidized like that of Saudi Arabian Airlines (SVA) and now accounts for 40% of flight costs.
(SMA) said it has canceled its Dammam - Medina service, after incurring -SAR40 million/-$10.6 million in losses over one year, despite an 80% LF load factor. Dammam - Riyadh flights will be halved - - (SMA) said it loses SAR40,000 per flight.
The board instructed management "to evaluate suspension of all domestic flying until the situation improves and a reasonable return can be made." It said that unless Saudi authorities remove the fare caps and level the cost of fuel across the industry, it will be forced to "reduce our domestic flights significantly and focus only on international routes." (SMA) said those routes "have performed well and we expect this good performance to continue."
Investors agreed two months ago to inject an additional +SAR200 million in the airline.
December 2008: Sama (SMA) named Bruce Ashby CEO, replacing Andrew Cowen. Ashby formerly was President & CEO of IndiGo (IGO) and US Airways (USA) Executive VP Marketing & Planning.
January 2009: Lufthansa Technik (LTK) won a seven-year, Total Material Operations contract with Sama (SMA) covering six 737-300s. The contract takes effect in March and covers pooling, Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MRO) and supply of materials.
October 2009: Sama (SMA), one of two new Low Cost Carriers (LCC)s in Saudi Arabia, updated its reservations and distribution system to the latest version of "New Skies." The solution is built by Navitaire, a major supplier for, particularly, (LCC)s.
November 2009: Sama (SMA) will re-start flights to Sharjah from Riyadh this month.
February 2010: (SITA) deployed the world's first Common Use Self-Service kiosks with an Arabic interface at Sharjah International, the parties announced. Passengers flying Air Arabia (ABZ), Nas Air (NAZ), Sama (SMA), Air India (AIN)/(IND) and Jet Airways (JPL) are using the kiosks. (SITA) also is providing Web check-in for Air Arabia (ABZ) under a five-year deal.
August 2010: Sama Airlines (SMA) announced it is discontinuing all flight operations. (CEO), Bruce Ashby said that stopping flights "is the only option remaining to us" following "many months" of unsuccessfully attempting to find financial relief. He said (SMA) incurred "heavy losses" during the October 2009 - March 2010 winter season and has been unable to recover despite a "sharply" improved revenue performance in the summer season.
Ashby said Sama (SMA) has been "awaiting a significant aviation relief package," presumably from the Saudi government, that has not come to fruition. The package would include fuel subsidies and "funds to support the past losses and growth of our business," he said. In addition, (SMA) "sought for, and found, more than one equity investor willing to inject cash into the business." But the deal was unable to be completed "in the required time frame," he explained.
(SMA) is a short-haul carrier serving destinations within Saudi Arabia and nearby countries including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Sudan, and the (UAE). Ashby said the airline “remains hopeful that a financial solution will be found that will allow us to restart operations in the coming few days.”
Later, however, troubled low-cost Saudi carrier Sama (SMA) told its staff that most of them will have to be laid off immediately after talks with the government failed to yield a commitment to support the loss-making company. The private firm suspended all operations after it failed to obtain financing from investors.
All leased 737-300 airplanes returned to lessors.