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Saudi Arabia launches second new airline

Aircraft, Airplane, Transportation Neom
1,443 businesses now operate across the Saudi aviation sector, which has recently seen two new airlines launched: Neom Airlines and Riyadh Air
  • First flights scheduled to take off in Q4 of 2024
  • Ai to make Neom International Airport a global aviation hub
  • Neom Airlines will be Saudi’s third state-operated airline

Saudi Arabia has announced its second new airline in a matter of weeks with the launch of Neom Airlines.

The carrier will solely serve the $500 billion Neom city in the north west of the kingdom. The first flights for tourists, residents and commercial partners are scheduled to take off in the fourth quarter of 2024, according to a report on the Neom website.

“We are there to enable the destination. Our goal is a holistic and interconnected approach, with Neom Airlines enabling the gross domestic product of Neom,” said its CEO Klaus Goersch, who previously served as chief operating officer for British Airways and Air Canada.

Neom is at the heart of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s drive to diversify the country’s economy and covers 26,500 sq km and will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy.

Initially, the airline will fly out of Neom Bay Airport, which opened in 2019 and operates Saudia flights domestically and to London and Dubai. Neom Airlines will then transfer to Neom International Airport at a later date.

Goersch said: “Organically, due to the strategic geographical location and the level of economic activity here, we expect that we will have a global aviation hub on our hands as time goes on – servicing the Middle East, Europe, America, Asia and so on.”

Although he did not provide exact details of the make-up of the fleet, Goersch said they would be retrofitting existing aircraft.

“But come 2026 onwards, there will be new innovative aircraft – whether it be electric, hydrogen-powered or supersonic – and next-generation interiors coming online from us. We are already in discussions with plane, interior and seat manufacturers,” he said.

He added that facilities at Neom will provide sustainable fuel for the airline.

“Sustainability will even stretch into the catering, with foods sourced locally from here and delivered via on-demand dining at a time when you actually feel like eating,” he said.

“We will look at every single component right down to the carpets and single-use plastics. Little things like this will accumulate and add up to more than the sum of their parts.”

Construction work on the first phase of Neom begun last year and forecast to be completed by 2030. The first phase will accommodate 1.5 million residents, ramping up to nine million by 2045.

The city of the future project will contribute 180 billion Saudi riyals ($48 billion) to Saudi GDP by 2030.

Neom Airlines will be the third state-operated airline in Saudi Arabia, after Saudia and Riyadh Air, which was announced earlier this month.

Last May, Neom announced a strategic partnership with Saudia to conduct regular international flights from Neom Bay Airport to selected destinations.

Meanwhile Riyadh Air, which is wholly owned by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, will be run by aviation veteran Tony Douglas.

The carrier’s first international flight will take off in early 2025, according to Douglas, who was formerly CEO of Etihad Airways. Riyadh Air aims to connect Saudi Arabia to more than 100 destinations by 2030.

Saudi Arabia has set a target to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to 10 percent of GDP by 2030 and attract 100 million visitors to the kingdom.

The project will contribute 180 billion Saudi riyals ($48 billion) to Saudi GDP by 2030.