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Saudi Arabia’s New $50 Billion King Salman Airport To Aim For Global Reach
Saudi Arabia_s $50 Billion King Salman Airport To Aim For Global Reach

Saudi Arabia is investing to expand its aviation sector, with $50 billion allocated for the new King Salman International Airport in Riyadh. The Kingdom aims to connect to 250 destinations worldwide and increase annual passenger traffic to 330 million by 2030.

Saudi Arabia has outlined crucial objectives to increase the aviation sector’s economic contribution to $74.6 billion by 2030. 

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Architects of King Salman International Aiport

Image Credit The PIF

UK architectural firm Foster & Partners emerged as winners in a competition to design the King Salman International Airport master plan last November. They shared that the airport is set to be one of the world’s largest, approximately 57 square kilometers. 

It will include six parallel runways, including existing terminals named after King Khalid, 12 square kilometers of airport support facilities, residential and recreational facilities, retail outlets, and other logistics real estate.

Aiming For 120 Million Passengers by 2030

Image Credit The PIF

According to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the airport is expected to serve up to 120 million travelers by 2030 and 185 million travelers, with the capacity to manage 3.5 million tons of cargo by 2050. For comparison, Dubai International Airport accommodated 66 million passengers in 2022.

Dubai’s status as the primary Middle East hub for transit traffic could be threatened if Saudi Arabia’s plans are realized. With projections of serving 88 million passengers this year, Dubai International, the world’s busiest international airport, highlights the ambitious goals set by Saudi.

Saudi Airport Evolution

Image Credit Foster+Partners

Saudi Arabia is emerging as a focal point for airport development in the Middle East to boost tourism revenue from 3.8 percent in 2019 to 10 percent of GDP by 2030, with Jeddah and Riyadh likely to serve as these hubs.

Saudi Airport Expansions

Image Credit Foster+Partners

The development of new and existing airport in Saudi Arabia is expected to improve connectivity to over 250 destinations via 29 airports, tripling annual passenger traffic to 330 million from approximately 100 million in 2019, and increasing air cargo volume to 4.5 million tons (up from 0.8 million tons), and adding two global long-haul connecting hubs.

An expansion plan for Jeddah Airport to increase capacity to 114 million passengers per year by 2030 attracted an investment exceeding $30 billion, as Riyadh-based Al Jazira Capital noted in September. The Kingdom also intends to privatize airports in Abha, Taif, Hail, and Qassim.

Riyadh Air & King Salman International Airport

Image Credits Riyad Air

In conjunction with the ambitious expansion plans for Saudi Arabia’s aviation infrastructure, the establishment of Riyadh Air Airlines is set to complement the country’s vision for a robust and globally competitive air travel network. 

The PIF is aiming to make Riyadh one of the Top 10 cities in the world by 2030. The launch of Riyadh Air is designed to support that aim by helping to connect Riyadh to over 100 destinations by 2030.

As these developments unfold, the synergy between Riyadh Air Airlines and King Salman International Airport is poised to elevate Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector, offering enhanced capacity, modern facilities, and a strategic gateway for domestic and international travelers.

Pilgrimage Boom

Image Credits Riyad Air

Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED) is a significant gateway for pilgrims undertaking the Hajj and Umrah journeys in Saudi Arabia. Given the significance of these religious pilgrimages, both the airport and Saudia Airlines have taken steps to accommodate and facilitate the unique needs of pilgrims.

The airport is working to expand its capacity to 43 million annual passengers by 2025 and to 80 million annual passengers by 2035.

During peak pilgrimage seasons, such as Hajj and Umrah, Jeddah Airport designates specific terminals exclusively for pilgrims. These terminals are equipped with facilities and services tailored to meet the unique needs of religious travelers.

Keep Reading: Abha Airport to Be Expanded to 10 Times Current Capacity

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