RIYADH, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAA), the kingdom's national carrier, announced it will resume flights to European airports as of Thursday, state-run SPA news agency reported Wednesday.
The move comes in parallel with the gradual restoration of air traffic in European airports after five days of disruption due to the ash blasted from an Icelandic volcano, SAA Acting Assistant Director General Ahmad Madani said, noting that flights would resume from Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.
SAA earlier said that it had to cancel 22 flights to Europe as of Tuesday due to the cloud of volcanic ash emanating from Iceland, costing the company 33 million U.S. dollars.
Eleven flights to London, four to Paris, three to Germany, two to Milan and two to Madrid had all been suspended, with each flight costing the SAA 1.5 million U.S. dollars, SAA official Abdullah al-Husseini told the Saudi Gazette.
When the situation is back to normal, the company will give priority to elderly and sick passengers, as well as students, Husseini said.
"We will be replacing the Boeing 777 with a Jumbo which can carry a greater number of passengers," he added.