Bloomberg reported that Saudi Arabia is considering building a new airport in its capital, Riyadh, according to people familiar with the matter, a facility that would serve as a base forNew airlineThe Kingdom’s Sovereign Wealth Fund “Public Investment Fund” is looking forward to launching it at a time when it aims to significantly increase the number of tourists coming to the Kingdom.
The $430 billion fund said earlier this year that it plans to invest in the aviation sector to support the kingdom’s tourism boom.
The sources, who requested anonymity, said the new airline, which was announced locally earlier this year, will serve tourists and business travelers, while the current Saudi Airlines will focus on the Hajj and Umrah sector from its base in Jeddah.
The Public Investment Fund is also studying the idea of investing billions in a new international airport in Riyadh, according to Bloomberg sources, while the size of the facility and the timetable for its construction have not been determined. The Public Investment Fund could decide not to proceed with those plans.
A spokesman for the fund declined to comment on plans to establish a new airport in Riyadh, and referred to previous commitments to invest in the sector and study the establishment of a new company “to support the aspirations of the aviation sector locally and regionally,” according to the agency.
The project would advance the kingdom’s goal of attracting 100 million tourists annually by 2030, a six-fold increase from 2019. Opening the country to visitors is a key part of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s strategy to diversify the economy away from oil sales.
State-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines is the country’s largest airline, with a fleet of 144 aircraft consisting of a mix of wide-body and narrow-body aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, according to its website.
Other airlines in the country include low-cost airline flyadeal, owned by Saudi Arabian Airlines, and flynas, owned by Kingdom Holding Company.
According to its website, King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh served more than 28.5 million passengers annually before the outbreak of the pandemic.
The Kingdom’s economic transformation plan has identified the Hajj and Umrah sector as an important source of non-oil revenue, and officials want to attract 30 million pilgrims annually by 2030. Hajj and Umrah brought in more than $20 billion in 2018, equivalent to 2.7% of GDP. for the kingdom.
In September 2019, Saudi Arabia opened applications for a tourist visa, and plans to expand leisure-oriented visits include a new vision for the modern city of NEOM, which is expected to cost $500 billion.