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Saudi aviation chiefs welcome 80 new air routes connecting Kingdom to world destinations

LONDON: Saudi aviation officials on Thursday welcomed the announcement of more than 80 new air routes connecting the Kingdom to destinations around the world.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation issued a statement following Wizz Air’s launch of 20 new services from Bucharest, Budapest, Catania, Larnaca, Milan, Naples, Rome, Tirana, Varna, Venice, and Vienna to Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam.

The introduction of the latest routes would strengthen the Kingdom’s global connectivity and help encourage greater competition in the Saudi aviation sector, the GACA statement said.

The expansion of international airlines’ presence in the Saudi aviation market would also enable the growing tourism sector in the country to flourish, supporting the Saudi aviation strategy, and Vision 2030, which will see the Kingdom triple its annual passenger traffic to reach 330 million passengers per year to more than 250 destinations by 2030.

The authority recently announced that Saudi Arabia would be reducing charges for airlines using the Kingdom’s main airports by between 10 percent and 35 percent, in order to create a regulatory framework to support a competitive aviation environment in the country.

The cut in airport charges for Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam forms part of the Saudi aviation strategy, a comprehensive sector reform program that will enable industry investment totaling $100 billion.

Ali Mohammed Rajab, the GACA’s vice president for economic policy and air transport, said: “At GACA, we welcome this latest announcement of new routes to Saudi Arabia, which provides a welcome boost to Saudi Arabia’s global connectivity, demonstrates the progress that is being made in delivering on the objectives of the Saudi aviation strategy and will create a more competitive and empowered aviation sector.

“We are committed to reducing costs in Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector to ensure long-term competitiveness and growth.

“Today marks yet another step in Saudi Arabia’s vision to create a leading aviation sector, with seamless experiences that exceed the expectations of businesses, investors, and passengers. Saudi Arabia is unleashing unprecedented aviation opportunities as the Kingdom connects to the world,” he added.