Saudi Arabia reveals refurbishment and construction plan for airports

Saudi Arabia reveals refurbishment and construction plan for airports
Saudi Arabia plans to refurbish existing airports and build new ones [representational image].
Published: 4 February 2019 - 12:30 p.m.
By: Oscar Rousseau

Plans to upgrade existing airports and establish new ones have been outlined by General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca) under Saudi Arabia’s trillion-riyal National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP).

The authority has launched an eight-pronged plan to transform the kingdom into a regional hub for air travel and logistics, following the launch of the $450bn (SAR1.7tn) NIDLP in January.

Gaca plans to upgrade aviation infrastructure in light of Saudi Arabia's potential for increasingly busy airways as it draws tourists to the kingdom through its Neom, Red Sea Project, and Qiddiya gigaprojects.

A review of cargo services, aviation safety, domestic air ticket rates, and flight scheduling will be carried out under the eight initiatives.

More support will be provided to Saudi Arabian airlines under the plan, which includes improving the overall customer experience at airports, developing navigation systems, and adopting relevant technology and innovation.

Gaca said it would also liaise with the Ministry of Defence to explore if the size of banned airspace, which affects some travel routes, can be reduced.

The authority did not elaborate on when these initiatives would be rolled out, or which airports might be upgraded, but work is already under way to improve aviation infrastructure and privatise aspects of the industry.

In January 2019, the first flight to Neom Airport landed in Sharma. The airport will support tourists travelling to Neom, a $500bn (SAR1.9tn) metropolis under development in the north-west of the kingdom.

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Saudi Arabia's national carrier, Saudia, operated the first-ever flight to Neom.

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