SCAT Airlines launches flights to Medina and Jeddah

NUR-SULTAN – SCAT Airlines has initiated its first regular flights connecting Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia. Trips from Almaty to Medina and Jeddah launched Nov. 30.

Photo credit: SCAT Airlines Press service.

“SCAT Airlines has operated flights to Jeddah and Medina for more than three years. Before this, flights were carried out on a charter programme and passengers could purchase a flight as part of a travel package from a tour operator. Passenger traffic indicators in these directions invariably show annual growth, in connection with which the company transferred flights onto a regular basis, meaning flights will now be scheduled twice a week and year-round. Passengers now have the opportunity to purchase flights for any convenient dates on the airline’s website www.scat.kz and at any ticket office in their cities,” the airline press service said.

The loading rates, even on the first flights, have been high, proving passenger interest in these destinations. Those on the inaugural flight were greeted at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport with pastry and flowers.

“The citizens of both countries, especially those Kazakhs who planned to visit Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage, have been waiting for these flights. Now, it will be much easier. We have been transporting pilgrims from Kazakhstan and neighbouring countries to Jeddah and Medina for more than three years. We are familiar with this market, as well as the needs of passengers and partners,” said SCAT’s Ground Handling Complex Director Daulet Khamzin.

The new flights will allow Kazakhstan’s Muslims to make more comfortable pilgrimages to the holy cities. To that end, Saudi Arabian authorities have presented citizens of 49 nations, including Kazakhstan, with the opportunity to obtain multiple tourist visas. Previously, travellers could enter the country only through diplomatic and special visas, but can now quickly secure a tourist visa either online or at the airport.

Visitors will be able not only to make a hajj, a mandatory pilgrimage with set dates, but also an umrah, a shorter pilgrimage that can be completed at any time.

Photo credit: SCAT Airlines Press service.

“Usually, businesspeople or pilgrims come to Saudi Arabia from Kazakhstan. New flights will add tourists to this group. This will strengthen ties between our countries and facilitate the development of tourism,” said Saudi Arabian Consul in Kazakhstan Satama Otaybi.

The flights will give a new impetus to developing relations between the countries, he added.

Saudi Arabia has also made the visa application process much easier, as travellers applying through the website visa.visitsaudi.com will receive them within two-three days. Introducing electronic tourist visas was one of the factors that allowed SCAT to launch its regular flight programmes.

Direct flights between the nations are also expected to strengthen trade and economic relations, as well as attract additional passenger traffic and tourists from the Arabian Peninsula and help develop Kazakhstan’s inbound tourism.

The first flight to Saudi Arabia on a Boeing 757 departed from Almaty Nov. 30. Almaty-Jeddah flights will take place every Saturday and Almaty-Medina every Wednesday, each taking approximately five hours. They are scheduled to depart in the morning and arrive in the evening, allowing passengers to maximise their time and travel ease. Ticket prices start at 220,000 tenge (US$570).

“Today, direct flights are carried out from Almaty. But the flight has convenient connections within Kazakhstan, which makes it possible for residents of all regions to travel in this direction. In the future, the airline will possibly connect other cities of Kazakhstan with direct communication to Jeddah and Medina,” added the press release.

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