Saudi Arabia is to launch a second national airline as part of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision2030 strategy, which aims to diversify the kingdom’s economy away from dependency on oil.
According to local media, the new flag carrier will make Saudi Arabia the 5th ranked airline globally in terms of air transit traffic. No details were given on when and how the airline will be launched. Last week Gulf News reported that the Saudis are looking to build a new airport in Riyadh which will serve as the base for the new airline.
The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund valued at $430 billion announced earlier this year that it is also looking to invest in aviation amid an expected boom in tourism. Saudi Arabia hopes to attract 100 million tourists annually by 2030, a six-fold increase from 2019.
The addition of a second national airline implies an increase in international destinations. It would also boost the kingdom’s air cargo capacity to more than 4.5 million tonnes, almost double the present figure. The aviation sector, which has been hit severely by the coronavirus pandemic, might be able to recoup some of its losses.
Vision2030 aims for Saudi Arabia to boost non-oil revenues to about 45 billion riyals ($12 billion) by 2030. By becoming a global logistics hub, which requires the development of ports as well as rail and road networks, the transport and logistics sector’s contribution would increase gross domestic product to 10 per cent from 6 per cent, said the state-owned SPA.