Multi-billion-dollar aircraft orders placed by Saudi airlines, the launch of Riyad Air and the kingdom’s plans to boost connectivity to 250 destinations around the world were some of highlights of KSA’s participation at the Paris Air Show.

The 54th Paris Air Show from June 19 to 25, saw comprehensive participation from the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) along with the kingdom’s aviation sector companies and organisations and air carriers.

The participation is in line with the guidelines set by the National Transport and Logistics Strategy (NTLS) launched by the Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman in 2021, which aims to solidify Saudi Arabia’s position as a global logistics hub in addition to strengthening relations with global aviation companies and the space industry while introducing promising investment opportunities in Saudi aviation within the framework of the kingdom’s national strategy for the aviation sector.

Saudi delegation

The Saudi delegation at the Show was led by the Minister of Transport and Logistics Services and GACA Chairman of the Board of Directors, Engineer Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser with the participation of the GACA President Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al-Duailej.

flynas, the Saudi air carrier and a leading low-cost airline in the Middle East, has firmed up an order with Airbus for 30 new A320neo Family aircraft, taking the airline’s total order with Airbus to 120 A320neo aircraft, including 10 A321XLRs.

The agreement was signed by Bandar Almohanna, flynas Chief Executive Officer & Managing Director and Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer & Head of International, in the presence of Al-Jasser, Alduailj and Ayed Aljeaid, Chairman of the Board of NAS Holding.

Tourism push

The kingdom’s national airline Saudia added 30 more aircraft to its order with Boeing taking the total firm order to 65. The airline plans to take the tally to a hundred in the near future. Flynas, the low-cost Saudi airliner, firmed an order for an added 30 aircraft, as the carrier leans into the kingdom’s massive tourism push.

The accord is part of a deal to purchase 120 jetliners for its all-Airbus fleet. The board aims to increase its aircraft order book to 250 planes in the near future, as it continues on its expansion course.

The Air Show also became the venue for the launch of Riyad Air, one of the world’s newest, and most ambitious airlines, being touted as the epitome of airline luxury. The airline remarkable purple livery was unveiled on the opening day of the Air Show.

Significant progress

Guided by its aviation strategy, the kingdom’s aviation sector has been making significant progress. The kingdom moved up 14 ranks on the Air Connectivity index published by the International Air Transport Association, demonstrating highest growth rate in air connectivity.

It also advanced to the 16th position globally in the maritime navigation network connectivity index, according to the UNCTAD report for the second quarter of 2023.

The kingdom’s national carrier, Saudia, advanced 11 spots on the “Skytrax” annual list of the world’s top 100 airlines, while Flynas was declared as the 4th best low-cost airline in the world and the top-ranking airline in the Middle East, maintaining its position on the ranking for the 6th consecutive year.

Passenger traffic

With the kingdom’s tourism sector booming unprecedently, Saudi Arabia is witnessing rapid surge in air passenger traffic, both domestic and international, over the past few years. As part of the strategy, the kingdom aims to enhance its air connectivity to 250 destinations around the world, transporting 330 million passengers by 2030.

It also intends to serve as a global logistics hub by doubling its air cargo capacity to 4.5 million tonnes by the end of the decade. The current edition of the Paris Air Show showcases to the world the level of attention given by the kingdom to its aviation sector and its capabilities to play a central role in the future of global aviation.