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When Saudi Arabia's Supreme Economic Council approved the plan to privatise flag carrier Saudia in 2006, no-one was expecting an overnight transformation of the 61-year-old flag carrier.
It had already taken six years to bring the roadmap before government, with His Royal Highness Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz having inaugurated the first privatisation studies in 2000. The actual process of dividing Saudia into six private businesses – catering, cargo, ground handling, maintenance, training and the core airline unit – was destined to take many more years.
But notwithstanding several missed deadlines, steady progress has been made by the carrier. Its cargo, catering and ground handling units have all been part-privatised, while the maintenance and training units are due to join their ranks by the second quarter of 2013...