Saudi Arabia to set up third new global airline alongside RIA, Saudia: report

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Saudi Arabia appears to be on a roll when it comes to establishing new airlines, with the country reportedly devising a third new airline targeting tourists, a report from Arabian Business suggests.

The new airline, which is yet to be named, would be the third Saudi Arabian carrier after its current flag carrier, Saudia, and the soon to be launched RIA. 

According to Arabian Business, this latest airline is to be a dedicated carrier for NEOM, a city being built in Tabuk Province in northwestern Saudi Arabia. 

What is NEOM?

The name NEOM is a combination of the Greek word for ‘new’, and the Arabic term for ‘future’. It is a $500bn megacity and the brainchild of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A news story from 2020 suggests that NEOM is intended to cover an area the size of Belgium. The plan is for the city to act as a hub for modern technology and tourism. It will cover a total area of 26,500 square kilometers and extend 170km along the coast of the Red Sea.

Where will the NEOM airline fly to?

NEOM already has its own airport, NEOM Bay Airport (NUM), operating direct flights to select regional and international destinations using the current national carrier Saudia, with a NEOM branded livery.

According to reports, the new airline would position NEOM as a hub for international tourists, with direct flights to cities in Europe and Asia. It is understood that the Kingdom plans to brand NEOM as the sole destination for its dedicated airline.

Who is behind the new airline?

Just like RIA, the new airline is backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).

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