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Parallel To Regional Big | Saudi Set To Launch New Airline

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is planning to target international transit passenger traffic with its new national airline, going head-to-head with other regional carriers Dubai’s Emirates and Qatar Airways and revving up the regional competition, said a report.

 The new airline would boost international routes and echo existing Gulf carriers by carrying people from one country to another via connections in the kingdom, known in the industry as sixth-freedom traffic.

 Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had on Tuesday announced plans 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 5th rank globally in terms of air transit traffic, official state media SPA reported, without giving details on when and how the airline would be created.

 Prince Mohammad 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 SR45 billion ($12 billion) by 2030.

 Making the kingdom a global logistics hub, which includes the development of ports, rail, and road networks, would increase the transport and logistics sector’s contribution to gross domestic product to 10% from 6%, the state news agency said.

 With the current flag bearer Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), the kingdom has one of the smallest airline networks in the region relative to its size. Saudia has struggled with losses for years and like global peers, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

 “The comprehensive strategy aims to position Saudi Arabia as a global logistics hub connecting the three continents,” Prince Mohammed was quoted as saying in the SPA report.

 “This will help other sectors like tourism, Hajj, and Umrah to achieve their national targets,” he added.

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