Saudi Privatisation Nears?

KING ABDULLAH of Saudi Arabia has ordered that an independent civil aviation authority be set up and has named Prince Fahd bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Saud as its head.  He will also be put in charge of the board of Saudi Arabian Airlines, a move that could help speed up privatisation of the national carrier.
The decision came as part of a series of royal decrees published via state media that have separated civil aviation from the Ministry of Defence and Aviation following the death of Crown Prince Sultan, who was also in charge of the ministry.  The decree has ordered that all duties and responsibilities of civil aviation should be transferred from the Defence Ministry to the General Authority for Civil Aviation, which comes directly under the king in his capacity as prime minister.
The Saudi government has been trying to privatise Saudi Arabian Airlines, one of the largest in the Middle East, for many years.  It launched the process in 2006 by dividing up the company into six units, with a view to selling each separately.  These include catering, cargo, maintenance, airline, flight academy and ground handling.