Saudi Arabia to open air space to all carriers that follow overflight authority terms

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Saudi Arabia has decided to open its air space for all air carriers that meet the requirements of the overflight authority, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said in a statement on Friday.

“The General Authority of Civil Aviation announces the decision to open the Kingdom’s air space for all air carriers that meet the requirements of the Authority for overflying,” the statement said.

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The move will also “consolidate the Kingdom’s position as a global hub connecting three continents,” the statement clarified. Enabling wider access to this crucial air space also allows for greater international air connectivity.

Travel and tourism

Saudi Arabia has plans to boost airports’ capacity to handle 330 million passengers by 2030, Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al-Duailej, head of GACA, told Al Arabiya in May.

GACA aims to invest over $100 billion in the aviation sector by 2030, al-Duailej said, adding that investments are expected to be funded by the private and public sector.

He also said that GACA plans to construct two major airports in Riyadh and Jeddah which will handle 100 million passengers each, adding that existing airports will be developed to improve the movement of tourists in the Kingdom.

GACA also reportedly aims to increase the number of destinations offered from the Kingdom’s airports from 100 to 250 by 2030.

Al-Duailej expects the aviation sector’s contribution to GDP to increase from $21 billion to more than $75 billion in 2030, adding that the aviation sector will create 1.1 million direct job opportunities and two million indirect job opportunities by 2030.

Saudi Arabia also aims to increase annual air cargo volumes to 4.5 million by 2030 from 900,000 tons in 2019, of which half would be transiting elsewhere, Mohammed Alkhuraisi, head of strategy at the General Authority of Civil Aviation told Reuters in April.

Opening its airspace to all air carriers has paved the way for more overflights to and from Israel, in a decision welcomed by US President Joe Biden who is due to visit the Kingdom on Friday.

Bypassing Saudi Arabian airspace had added to flight times and increased fuel burn on some services to and from Israel.

US President Joe Biden welcomed the decision, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.

“This decision paves the way for a more integrated, stable, and secure Middle East region, which is vital for the security and prosperity of the United States and the American people, and for the security and prosperity of Israel,” Sullivan said in a statement.

With Reuters and inputs from Al Arabiya Englishs Amani Hamad

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