More details about Saudi Arabia’s newest airline, NEOM Airlines, have been revealed by the carrier’s chief executive, Klaus Goersch.
In a blog post the CEO, who has been chief operating officer at British Airways and Air Canada, set out his vision for the airline and confirmed that NEOM will launch at the end of 2024.
NEOM Airlines will serve Saudi Arabia’s futuristic city, NEOM, a $500bn futuristic gigacity being built in the north-west of the country and the brainchild of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“The unique position of building an airline and airport from scratch provides the freedom to personalize the customer experience in a way not seen before in the aviation industry,” writes Goersch.
The new airline and airport will embrace advanced technology like biometrics and artificial intelligence to make passengers’ experience equal to those of the “1% club” that use private jets.
“This ‘new future’ is what we are building in the north-west of Saudi Arabia,” the airline boss explains. “Ours certainly will not be a generic airline, we will be aiming to elevate every single touch point and your NEOM immersion will start before you even board the plane in London, New York, Paris and so on.”
Goersch hopes that by building the airport and the airline from the ground up that the project will be uniquely placed to deliver a customer experience that can’t be replicated.
NEOM Bay Airport (NUM) is already open with Saudia flights domestically, as well as to London and Dubai, and then from the NEOM international airport later in the cycle.
Resorts are set to open in early 2024 so the airline will initially be retrofitting current aircraft with existing technology.
“Come 2026 onwards, there will be new innovative aircraft – whether it be electric, hydrogen-powered or supersonic – and next-generation interiors coming online from us,” Goersch said.
The ambition is that every flight will have some sustainable fuel onboard from mixing facilities in NEOM.
“Sustainability will even stretch into the catering, with foods sourced locally from here and delivered via on-demand dining at a time when you actually feel like eating,” explained Goersch. “We will look at every single component right down to the carpets and single-use plastics.”
The vision is that the airline will be an “extension of NEOM” with a “holistic and interconnected approach”.
The Inflight entertainment will be a point of focus for NEOM Airlines with each passenger given big screens and a large product offering on every seat.
The flight won’t be limited to movies and shows either, as the CEO plans to offer 6G Wi-Fi and accommodate gaming and chat too.
“There is a freedom in starting from zero and being well funded enough to explore the ideas that challenge the accepted norms. We can be futuristic and efficient, we don’t have to modify or retrofit,” Goersch said.
He added: “Our ultimate ambition is that you will not think about being on a plane or in an airport, you will simply enjoy the experience. Wouldn’t that be something?”