Future Aviation Forum 2024 in Riyadh Highlights Global Investment Opportunities

The president of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) during their speech at the Future Aviation Forum 2024 in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The president of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) during their speech at the Future Aviation Forum 2024 in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
TT

Future Aviation Forum 2024 in Riyadh Highlights Global Investment Opportunities

The president of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) during their speech at the Future Aviation Forum 2024 in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
The president of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) during their speech at the Future Aviation Forum 2024 in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The third edition of the Future Aviation Forum 2024 has kicked off in Riyadh, welcoming more than 5,000 industry leaders from 120 nations. The event highlights investment opportunities worth over $100 billion in Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector.
Key announcements on the first day included Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) signing its biggest deal ever with Airbus. Saudi Arabia also announced its cooperation with Boeing and Airbus to use locally produced aluminum and titanium in their planes, aiming to boost local manufacturing.
Additionally, plans for a new national airline to be launched later this year were revealed.
Saleh Al-Jasser, Minister of Transport and Logistics Services and Chairman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), launched the three-day conference in Riyadh. The event brought together over 30 ministers, 77 civil aviation leaders, airline CEOs, and 5,000 aviation experts from around the world.
Al-Jasser pointed out the significant changes in Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector since the pandemic, with remarkable growth. He stressed the need for collaboration to tackle challenges.
He highlighted key achievements, including Saudi Arabia’s rise to the 13th position globally in air connectivity and a record-breaking 112 million passengers in 2023, a 26% increase from 2022.
Al-Jasser also mentioned the sector’s adoption of new economic regulations for airports and air transportation services.
The minister also shared updates on legislative improvements and expansion plans during a press conference on the forum’s sidelines. These changes cover economic regulations, agency services, and airspace management, all coordinated with relevant authorities.
He mentioned that the updates aim to meet targets set by the National Aviation Sector Strategy, including reaching 300 million passengers and 250 destinations.
Al-Jasser also discussed plans to build and expand airports, including King Salman International Airport in Riyadh, which aims to accommodate 100 million passengers by 2030.
Additionally, he highlighted Saudi Arabia’s sustainability efforts, such as the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative, targeting a 2% reduction in carbon footprint annually.
GACA President Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Duailej stated that the first day of the forum witnessed great success, with numerous commercial deals, initiatives, and agreements aimed at enhancing global connectivity.
The agreements announced during the forum are a testament to the confidence in the growth and investment opportunities provided by the civil aviation sector in the Kingdom, reaffirming the Kingdom’s leading position in the global aviation sector.
Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) entered a deal with Airbus to purchase 105 aircraft of the A320-Neo and A321-Neo models to expand and modernize its fleet, enhancing global air connectivity with various countries.
During the forum, the GACA also launched the first edition of the Kingdom's aviation sector report, which highlighted the civil aviation sector’s contribution to the Kingdom’s economy, amounting to $53 billion.
The GACA also issued a roadmap for general aviation, aiming to develop the business aviation and private aircraft sector in the Kingdom, with the goal of increasing its size tenfold by 2030.



Lebanon Tourism Season Revives Economic Outlook

People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
TT

Lebanon Tourism Season Revives Economic Outlook

People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
People are seen at the arrival lounge at Beirut International Airport, Lebanon. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The surge in visitors to Lebanon during Eid al-Adha and high demand for summer concert bookings are boosting hopes for a revival in tourism.

This sector is crucial for reigniting positive economic growth after about nine months of challenging conditions due to the Gaza war and subsequent border clashes between Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon.

Contrary to earlier fears this month of possible Israeli strikes inside Lebanon, Ali Hamieh, caretaker Minister of Public Works and Transport, reported a daily average of 14,000 arrivals at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport, with numbers on the rise.

Jean Abboud, President of the Association of Travel and Tourism Agents, confirmed that despite initial concerns, booking rates have bounced back to 90-95% after Israeli threats of a mid-month strike. Most arrivals are Lebanese expatriates and foreign workers.

Before the summer season’s anticipated surge, Lebanon saw a 5.37% decrease in arrivals, with air traffic down by 9.34% and passenger numbers at Beirut International Airport dropping by 6.84% in the first five months of this year, totaling 2.29 million travelers compared to 2.46 million last year.

These declines were linked to the border clashes.

Lebanon’s tourism sector, generating over $5 billion annually in recent years, ranks as the country’s second most vital revenue stream after expatriate remittances, which officially approach $7 billion.

Together, they contribute more than half of Lebanon’s national income, which has dropped sharply from about $55 billion to under $22 billion due to the ongoing financial and currency crises that erupted five years ago.

Despite significant losses during peak tourism seasons like Christmas, Easter, and Eid al-Fitr, a report by Bank Audi indicated that Lebanon’s tourism revenues lost over $1 billion in the first six months of the Gaza conflict, driven by a 24% drop in tourist arrivals.

On average, tourists spend around $3,000 during their stay in Lebanon.