Saudi ArabiaTravel

Saudi’s first-half international passenger traffic triples

Saudi Arabia’s international passenger traffic more than tripled in the first half of 2022 as the kingdom eased travel restrictions, hosted Umrah pilgrims and benefited from a gradual rebound in demand for long-haul travel.

The number of international passengers through the kingdom’s airports rose to 16.6 million in the first six months of the year, up from 4.5 million in the same period of 2021, Mohammed Alkhuraisi, vice president of strategy at the General Authority for Civil Aviation (Gaca).

International traffic has recovered to approximately 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in 2019, he said.

The country’s Saudi Aviation Strategy calls for tripling annual passenger traffic to 330 million by 2030, boosting the number of destinations to 250 from 99 at present and establishing a new flag carrier.

This strategy is backed by $100 billion in investments from the government and private sector.

In July, the kingdom’s airports recorded a surge in passenger traffic, exceeding the pre-pandemic monthly volumes of July 2019, as the country hosted Hajj pilgrims, the Gaca official said.

Growth during the second half of 2022 will be driven by the peak travel summer season in July to September and the kingdom hosting events such as the Future Investment Initiative in October and the World Travel & Tourism Council global summit in November in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is reducing airport charges for airlines at the kingdom’s main airports by between 10 per cent and 35 per cent to create a more competitive aviation sector and attract more airline customers. The reduction will probably be introduced in the fourth quarter of this year, Mr Alkhuraisi said.

The kingdom is also forging ahead with plans for the privatisation of its airports, as it seeks to diversify its oil-dominated economy and attract more investment in the aviation sector.


The National
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