Soft Launch

In cooperation with the Air Connectivity Program, the Saudi Tourism Authority, and MATARAT, SAUDIA adds (4) new international destinations


Representing a significant expansion program for 2023, the route development follows the national carrier’s signing of an agreement with ACP, and is in line with the program's objective of enhancing the Kingdom's point-to-point air connectivity and its reach to target international markets. 

By collaborating with airlines to expand their operations in Saudi Arabia, ACP seeks to promote growth and development within the tourism and aviation sectors, working to strengthen the Kingdom’s position as a leading destination for international travel. 

"The opening of four new air routes across three different regions is the result of strong collaboration between the Saudi tourism and aviation ecosystems," said Ali Rajab, CEO of ACP. "We are proud to have been part of these efforts. These new routes offer a diverse mix of travel opportunities in the Kingdom, unlocking its rich cultural heritage and inviting travelers from around the world to experience the beauty and diversity of this remarkable destination. 

“Air connectivity will play an increasingly important role in enabling tourism growth and creating new opportunities for businesses and tourists alike. We look forward to building on this momentum to unlock new destinations, enable further inbound tourism, and create a brighter future for the Kingdom,” Ali Rajab added.

Capt. Ibrahim Koshy, CEO of SAUDIA, highlighted the airline's ongoing commitment to investing in operational expansion. “We are dedicated to continuing to optimize our modern fleet to meet current and future expansion requirements,” he said. "This agreement has strengthened the airline's competitive position, with a market share of 40% for flights and seat capacity in the past year.”

Koshy also emphasized the importance of initiatives aimed at increasing SAUDIA’s international market share, simplifying and facilitating travel procedures, and enhancing the travel experience for guests. In addition to increasing the Kingdom’s air connectivity, these initiatives also help grow the country’s budding tourism industry while improving its existing Hajj and Umrah-related travel networks. 

Saudi’s tourism ecosystem has an ambitious target of reaching 100m visits annually by 2030, with air connectivity being a central part of achieving this goal. Saudi Tourism Authority's strategy focuses on understanding consumer demand and identifying key source markets. These new direct flight routes have been launched as a response to the uptick in consumer demand from travelers looking to visit or transit through Saudi from Beijing, Birmingham, Kano, and Johannesburg.

The increase in the supply of aviation capacity is being supported by a concerted privatization push in the Kingdom’s airports, led by MATARAT Holding, under the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). MATARAT CEO, Engineer Muhammad Al-Maghlouth, noted: “At MATARAT we are working with our ecosystem partners and airlines to enhance the airport experience for both air carriers and passengers in Saudi Arabia. Our focus is on delivering world-class services that meet the highest international standards, thus improving the travel experience for everyone.”

“This inauguration marks a significant milestone in our efforts, as several airlines have announced plans to introduce direct flights from Saudi airports to new international destinations. This strategic initiative is aligned with the National Aviation Strategy's goals, a critical component of the National Transport and Logistics Strategy, which aims to achieve the objectives outlined in Saudi Vision 2030. By adding 250 new international destinations and increasing passenger capacity to 330 million, we are working to realize these goals.”

 About the Air Connectivity Program
The Saudi Air Connectivity Program (ACP) was established in 2021 to support tourism growth in Saudi Arabia by enhancing air connectivity and developing existing and prospective air routes, connecting Saudi Arabia to new destinations. ACP works at the intersection of tourism and aviation by bridging the stakeholder ecosystem to enable the National Tourism Strategy’s vision and establish Saudi Arabia as a global leader in tourism air connectivity.

About Saudi Tourism Authority
Saudi Tourism Authority (STA), launched in June 2020, is responsible for marketing Saudi’s tourism destinations worldwide and developing the destination’s offering through programs, packages and business support. Its mandate includes developing the country’s unique assets and destinations, hosting and participating in industry events, and promoting Saudi’s destination brand locally and overseas. STA operates 16 representative offices around the world, serving 38 countries. 

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About Matarat Holding
Matarat Holding was founded in 2013 with the aim of transforming and promoting Saudi airports by leading the privatization of the industry and managing the operation of 27 airports in Saudi Arabia through its subsidiaries (Riyadh Airports, Jedco, DACO, and Cluster2), which aims to develop the Kingdom's airports and improve their performance to achieve the objectives of the National Aviation Strategy emanating from the National Transport and Logistics Strategy consistent with Saudi Vision 2030.

About Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) 
Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) is the national flag carrier of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Established in 1945, the company has grown to become one of the Middle East’s largest airlines. 
SAUDIA has invested significantly in upgrading its aircraft and currently operates one of the youngest fleet. The airline serves an extensive global route network covering around 100 destinations across four continents, including all 28 domestic airports in Saudi Arabia.

A member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO), SAUDIA has also been a member airline in SkyTeam, the second largest alliance, since 2012. 

The airline is ranked as a Global Five-Star Major Airline by the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and has been awarded Diamond status by APEX Health Safety powered by SimpliFlying in recognition of its comprehensive approach to safety during the pandemic. 
Most recently, SAUDIA was named the Middle East’s Fastest Growing Airline in 2022 by Brand Finance® and the World’s Most Improved Airline in 2021 by Skytrax, the second time it has received this prestigious accolade.

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