Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced plans to launch a second national airline as part of a broader push to turn the kingdom into a hub for transport and logistics to help diversify the economy and decrease dependence on oil revenues. The announcement came Tuesday shortly after the cabinet, chaired by his father the king, approved renaming the “Ministry of Transport” to “Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services”.
Under a new “National Transport and Logistics Strategy”, Saudi Arabia aims to make the kingdom the 5th global air transit passenger route, increase international destination reach to 250 destinations, and double air cargo capacity to more than 4.5m tonnes. Additionally, the strategy plans to develop ports, rail and road networks, and increase the transport sector’s contribution to GDP from 6% to 10% by 2030.
“The comprehensive strategy that aims to solidify the Kingdom’s position as a global logistics hub connecting the three continents, it will uplift and improve all forms of transport services and strengthen the integration of logistical services and future technologies, supporting and enabling the Kingdom’s national development plans,” the crown prince said in a statement, adding that the strategy would also enable adjacent sectors such as hajj and umrah and tourism to achieve targets.
A new Riyadh airport is expected to serve as a base for the new airline that the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund and other investors are looking to launch, according to a report by local financial news site Maaal last February. The Public Investment Fund appeared to confirm that when it unveiled its 2021-2025 strategy earlier this year, saying it was “studying setting up a new company to support the aviation sector aspirations locally and regionally.”