Budget carrier Wizz Air has announced a major expansion in Saudi Arabia with 20 routes launched from Europe to Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam, the airline announced Thursday.
The European budget airline said the new routes will connect Bucharest, Budapest, Catania, Larnaca, Milan, Naples, Rome, Sofia, Tirana, Venice and Vienna to the three cities in the Kingdom as part of plans to “strengthen Saudi Arabia’s global connectivity.”
Fares will start from about $55, with the new routes expected to “majorly enhance Wizz Air’s presence in the Kingdom” and bring in an additional one million visitors to Saudi Arabia next year, it said.
Jozsef Varadi, CEO of Wizz Air, said: “Saudi Arabia is one of the most exciting countries in the world for aviation portraying an eclectic mix of travel opportunities with unmissable destinations, countless exciting attractions, and a thriving cultural scene.”
“Today’s announcement follows the Memorandum of Understanding we recently signed with the government enabling us to contribute to Saudi tourism’s growth and its entire ecosystem.”
The first routues - from Riyadh to Budapest and Riyadh to Bucharest - will kick off from September 1, with staggered rollouts of the other routes to continue until April next year. All routes are now on sale.
The new routes aim to boost the growing Saudi Arabian tourism sector and contribute to the Vision 2030 program to triple the country’s passenger traffic by 2030.
“Not only does Wizz Air offer incredibly low fares to travelers given our operational efficiency, but we also fly one the youngest, most modern, and sustainable fleet of aircraft in the world,” said Varadi. “I see the Kingdom as a long-term strategic market for Wizz Air where we will continue to innovate and carry the flag of low cost flying for the benefit of Saudi residents and visitors as well as the country’s diversifying economy.”
Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO and Member of the board at Saudi Tourism Authority (STA), described the new routes as “one of the largest such announcements anywhere in the world.”
“It is a real first for Wizz Air and for Saudi and opens a new and affordable gateway for visitors from Europe that will allow everyone to come and explore the world's most exciting new destination,” he added. “This is already an exceptional partnership and today is just the start.”
“We are making it easier than ever to get to Saudi and are confident that increased travel options and competitiveness will expand consumer choice and drive down costs.”
Khalil Lamrabet, CEO of The Air Connectivity Program, said the announced routes are a “testament to the strong traffic potential that the Kingdom has to offer.”
Mohammed Ahmed Almowkley, CEO of Matarat, a property of the General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia (GACA) that has been forging the transformation of the Airports industry said the announcement is an extension of efforts to “provide an attractive environment at Saudi airports for airlines and passengers to offer better choices with high-quality services.”
Last month, GACA announced that Saudi Arabia was to open its air space for all air carriers that meet the requirements of the overflight authority to “consolidate the Kingdom’s position as a global hub connecting three continents.”
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.
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