GACA Vice President: New Saudi Air Carrier to Be Launched Soon

Executive Vice President for Economic Policies and Logistics Services at GACA Awad Al-Sulami. (Photo: Turki Al-Agili)
Executive Vice President for Economic Policies and Logistics Services at GACA Awad Al-Sulami. (Photo: Turki Al-Agili)
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GACA Vice President: New Saudi Air Carrier to Be Launched Soon

Executive Vice President for Economic Policies and Logistics Services at GACA Awad Al-Sulami. (Photo: Turki Al-Agili)
Executive Vice President for Economic Policies and Logistics Services at GACA Awad Al-Sulami. (Photo: Turki Al-Agili)

Saudi Arabia is preparing to announce a new national air carrier in 2024 in line with the country’s goal to reach 250 global destinations by 2030.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of the Future Aviation Forum, Executive Vice President for Economic Policies and Logistics Services at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) Awad Al-Sulami confirmed that the modern national carrier will be announced this year, noting that studies were underway to determine the needs of the sector for additional airlines.

Held under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, GACA is hosting the third edition of the Future Aviation Forum (FAF 2024) at the King Abdulaziz International Conference Center in Riyadh from May 20 - 22.

The event focuses on “Elevating Global Connectivity” and strives to boost aviation collaboration via global partnerships, fostering innovation, sustainable air travel, and cultural exchange.

Asked about the current increase in domestic ticket prices, Al-Sulami pointed to the implementation of economic regulations for competition and transparency in the market. This will mainly reflect on supply and demand, he underlined, adding that the introduction of new carriers will lead to competitive prices.

Executive Vice President for Aviation Safety and Environmental Sustainability at GACA Capt. Suleiman Al-Muhaimedi told Asharq Al-Awsat that Saudi Arabia has achieved record indicators in safety rates over the past 15 years.

The Kingdom is one of the signatories of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (also known as Chicago Convention), which defines international rules and recommendations regarding sector standards, he added.

GACA Executive Vice President of Quality and Customer Experience Eng. Abdulaziz Al-Dahmash pointed to a major challenge in the aviation industry, which he said was growing at a rapid pace.

He stated that the target number of travelers during the year 2030 represents three times the current figures, explaining that the Authority has developed programs to measure the traveler’s experience and ensure its flexibility and smoothness.



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)
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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.