The new airline, the third largest Saudi carrier behind Saudia and Riyadh International Airlines (RIA) will be attached to the NEOM project and is expected to take off in late 2024 or early 2025.
After Riyadh Air which has just been launched, Saudi Arabia is already starting to communicate about the launch of NEOM Airlines, the new Saudi air transport start-up.
NEOM, pharaonic project
In fact, this company, about which very little is known yet, except that it should be launched by the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025, will be attached to the pharaonic NEOM project that is underway. The latter is a futuristic new city project, located in the extreme north-west of Saudi Arabia in the province of Tabuk, near Jordan, Israel and Egypt (the airport of Sharm-El-Sheikh is located 48 km away). Launched by Mohammed Ben Salmane ben Abdelaziz al Saud, NEOM is expected to have a total area of nearly 26,500 km2 and is expected to cost a total of $500 billion. Residents of the city are expected to have wireless broadband internet access, robotic valets, flying drone cabs, among other technological innovations. A facial recognition system is expected to cover the entire city, and a bridge project may also be launched to cross the Gulf of Aqaba and reach Egypt on the other side of the Red Sea. The city is to be run as a large private company with the option of buying shares on the stock market and with its own board of directors. Among the major projects included in the largest new city project are the mountainous site of Trojena, which is to host the IX Asian Winter Games in 2029; Sindalah, a tourism project grouping artificial islands and spanning 840,000 square meters; The Line, an artificial intelligence-managed city project spanning 170 kilometers and expected to be carbon-neutral; and Oxagon, an octagon-shaped floating city project.
NEOM Airlines is expected to be attached to Neom Bay International Airport. It is the first of four airports to be built under the NEOM project. It received its first flight on June 31, 2019, from Saudia, which came from Riyadh. The airport's IATA code is "NUM" and it has a 2,630-meter long runway. For the time being, however, it only accommodates the workers and employees working on the NEOM project.
Target: 100 million annual international arrivals in Saudi Arabia by 2030
The NEOM project is being developed as part of the vast economic and tourism investment and development program, dubbed "Vision 2030," aimed at reaching a total of 100 million annual international arrivals by 2030, with $100 billion dedicated to the airport and air transport sector. Within this framework, the Saudi government has launched or will launch a large number of airport projects. Among the most notable is the new Riyadh airport, the King Salman International Airport, which will eventually compete with the major hubs of Dubai and Doha. With a surface area of 57 km2, it is equipped with six runways and aims to receive up to 120 million passengers by 2030 and 185 million by 2050. It should take over from Riyadh's current airport, the King Khaled International Airport. This platform should be the base of activities of the new Saudi company, Riyadh International Airlines (RIA), which was founded in 2022 but has not yet launched its first routes. With a starting capital of $30 billion, it is financed by Saudi public funds and aims at a total of 150 domestic and international destinations. There are insistent rumors of an upcoming aircraft order from RIA, which could include 40 Airbus A350s, as well as Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s.
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