The new Saudi airline will be launched “very soon”
Saudi Arabia set to launch its new national airline ‘very soon’, a key pillar of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, a plan that aims to attract three times as many foreign tourists by the end of the decade .
The carrier, which will be based at King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, will play a pivotal role in the Saudis’ plan to launch the country’s “golden era of travel” and transform it into one of the main centers of aviation in the Middle East. .
In May, Saudi officials announced an airline strategy targeting 250 direct destinations, tripling traffic and creating a new carrier.
Mohammed Alkhuraisi, vice president of strategy and business intelligence at Saudi Arabia’s General Civil Aviation Authority, said The National Wednesday that the final touches are being made to the carrier’s unveiling plans.
“I know it’s going to be flying very soon,” he told the Farnborough International Airshow in the UK.
Alkhuraisi declined to say how many jobs the project aims to create, but pointed out that Vision 2030 aims to create 1.1 million jobs across several sectors.
The aviation sector is key to the plan’s success, he said, and will prove “really crucial” in achieving the ambitious goal.
“Aviation enables multiple sectors: tourism, trade, foreign direct investment, bilateral, relations with different countries,” he said.
“The complete tourism strategy can be made possible by strong aviation.
“We want to attract 100 million tourists by 2030 and we need to make sure you have the right capacity.”
The introduction of a new airline, which will operate alongside national carrier Saudia – formerly Saudi Arabian Airlines – will play a major role in the government’s plan to diversify its economy, boost tourism and reduce dependence on oil .
Sustainability is at the heart of the plan and increasing the number of women in the workforce is also a priority.
The plan is expected to propel Saudi Arabia to the fifth position in terms of global passenger air traffic.
Mr Alkuraisi said the kingdom was looking to capitalize on its strategic location and act as a hub for connections between Africa, Asia and Europe.
The global aviation sector is grappling with staff shortages amid a sudden rebound in travel demand, and there have been scenes of chaos at airports across the UK and across Europe those last weeks.
Alkhuraisi said the Saudi aviation sector is making solid gains in terms of passenger numbers as international travel reopens, and has been spared the problems plaguing airports in other regions.
The promising signs mean that Gaca is confident that contributions to Vision 2030 will go ahead as planned.
“Month after month, I think we have recovered [to reach] pre-pandemic levels for the month of June for example,” he said.
“It’s a great signal.
“We are recovering faster than everyone expected. Previously we said 2024 to 2026 to restore pre-pandemic levels.
“Today, we are seeing a very rapid recovery which pushes us to be more ready in terms of airport infrastructure, human capital, as well as overall preparedness.
“So we’re very comfortable and we’re seeing very promising signs of a quick recovery.”
During a speech in Farnborough, southern England, on Wednesday, Mr Alkhuraisi announced a reduction in airport landing and take-off fees for airlines using Saudi Arabia’s airports.
“I am very pleased to announce today in Farnborough that Saudi Arabia is reducing airport charges for all airlines coming into the kingdom by 10-35%,” he said.
This decision comes following a dispute between carriers and airports.
The airlines’ trade body, the International Air Transport Association, has accused airports of raising fees to unreasonable levels as they seek to recoup massive losses suffered during the pandemic at the expense of carriers, who are trying also to recover.
Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut airport charges comes amid fierce competition from global hubs established in the region, including the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.
Updated: July 20, 2022, 12:58 p.m.