Saudi Arabia plans new national airline as it diversifies from oil

i24NEWS - Reuters

2 min read
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during an interview in Riyadh on April 27, 2021.
AFP / Saudi Royal PalaceSaudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during an interview in Riyadh on April 27, 2021.

Prince Mohammed wants to turn kingdom into global logistics hub with ports, rail, road networks

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans on Tuesday to launch a second national airline as part of a broader strategy to turn the kingdom into a global logistics hub as it seeks to diversify from oil.

The creation of another flag carrier would catapult Saudi Arabia into the fifth rank globally in terms of air transit traffic, official state media reported, without giving details on when and how the airline would be created.

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Prince Mohammed has been spearheading a push for Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy and the largest country in the Gulf geographically, to boost non-oil revenues to about 45 billion riyals ($12 billion) by 2030.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabi's Gulf neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, is also pushing to diversify it economy with a focus on sustainability, including in the transportation sector. 

Etihad Rail is building out 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) of track connecting all of the emirates — from Ghweifat in the western region of Abu Dhabi to the emirate of Fujairah on the eastern coast — and linking with neighboring Saudi Arabia.

The UAE already boasts two flag-carrying airlines — Emirates and Etihad. 

The current national carrier in Saudi Arabia is Jeddah-based Saudia.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly considering building a new airport in Riyadh that would be the operational base for the new airline.

The new airline would serve tourists and business travelers, while Saudia would focus on religious tourism from its base in Jeddah.