Al Maha Airways (Riyadh) is set to begin operating domestic Saudi Arabian services "shortly" a report in Qatar's Al-Sharq newspaper has claimed. The paper claims the Qatar Airways-backed start-up will initially use a fleet of nine A320-200 aircraft for operations which will be limited to flights between Jeddah and Riyadh initially before branching off into the Kingdom's second-tier cities.

It is currently unknown whether or not Al Maha has secured its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) though Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al Baker did state in June that the carrier was well advanced in its certification with the Saudi authorities.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) confirmed Al Maha was on track for a November launch.

Concerns over the project's future were raised in March this year when relations between Qatar and fellow Gulf states Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, soured over mounting frustration at Doha’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood; an organization the Saudis and the UAE have labelled as “terrorist”.

Another start-up, the Al Qahtani Aviation Company's SaudiGulf Airlines (6S, Dammam), is also due to make its debut later this year with four A320-200s on order from Airbus (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) due for delivery early next year.