DUBAI (AFP): Saudi Arabia’s main airline will next month start operating weekly international flights from the kingdom’s planned futuristic megacity known as NEOM, with Dubai as the first destination, state media reported Monday.
The weekly NEOM-Dubai flights operated by flag carrier Saudia will begin “by the end of June 2022, with plans to expand to London soon thereafter”, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.
The $500 billion Red Sea project is part of de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan to diversify Saudi Arabia’s oil-dependent economy.
It has been billed as a futuristic cityscape evocative of a sci-fi blockbuster — with everything from flying taxis to robot maids –- and will operate under its own founding law that is still being formulated.
Officials say its population will eventually exceed one million people.
The national airliner operated the first flight to NEOM’s airport in 2019.
The airport “is a key enabler of NEOM’s development, facilitating efficient access to NEOM for residents and business partners,” the project’s CEO, Nadhmi al-Nasr, said Monday, according to the SPA report.
A senior official told AFP last October that NEOM was on track to welcome its first businesses and residents by 2025.
As they try to bring NEOM online, Saudi officials are also aiming for a dramatic expansion of the aviation sector that would turn the kingdom into a global travel hub.
Goals include more than tripling annual traffic to 330 million passengers by the end of the decade and drawing $100 billion in investments to the sector by 2030.
The Saudis also aim to establish a new national carrier, construct a new “mega airport” in Riyadh and move up to five million tonnes of cargo each year.