Arab News, Saturday, Jun 04, 2022 | Zul Qaadah 04, 1443
Saudi aviation sector needs foreign investments to hit 330m passenger target, official says
Private and foreign investments are necessary to elevate the Saudi Arabian
aviation industry, even as the country targets 330 million passengers and 250
international destinations by the end of this decade, said a top civil aviation
“Public Investment Fund is our main partner. We
are very happy to have such an investment powerhouse. But not just PIF; we need
everyone’s cooperation. We need the private sector. We need the foreign
investors as much as we need the PIF,” said Mohammed Alkhuraisi, head of
strategy, General Authority of Civil Aviation, in an exclusive interview with
Regional logistics hub
During the talk, Alkhuraisi revealed that GACA has
solid plans to transform Saudi Arabia into a logistics hub, as it targets a
cargo shipment of 4.5 million by 2030.
He added that out of the targeted 4.5 million
cargo shipments, 2 million would be exclusively transshipment.
Outlining GACA’s plans regarding logistics
regulations, Alkhuraisi said, “There is a clear roadmap on what we will do in
cargoes in terms of easing regulations, streamlining processes, and building
specialized Economic Zones, having specialized warehouses and facilities, etc.”
He added: “With the help of the Ministry of
Transport and Logistics services, we are marching on the execution of these
regulations and publicizing them.”
GACA is no longer an operator
During the interview, Alkhuraisi made it clear
that GACA is no longer an operator but a regulator.
“So today, GACA is a pure regulator and no more an
operator. GACA used to operate airports in the past decades, and now, we
separated that completely. All the airports and operations are within companies
focused on operational matters, while GACA focuses only on regulatory affairs,”
During the interview, Alkhuraisi also highlighted
the steps that should be taken to revive the aviation industry that was severely
impacted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“To smooth out the airlines business recovery, you
need to optimize the cost environment. And this is the responsibility of the
regulator. So it is necessary to ensure that we have the right sets of
regulations and incentive schemes in place to have a cost structure in line with
the best practices.”
However, he admitted that there are several other
things where the regulator does not have any control, including the cost of
aircraft ownership, workforce and human capital.
More partnerships with foreign carriers
Alkhuraisi also added that Saudi Arabia wants more
foreign carriers connected to the Kingdom through bilateral agreements.
“We would like to have more foreign carriers
connected to the Kingdom as part of our bilateral agreements. For example, KLM.
They operated the routes from Amsterdam. Other airlines would be encouraged and
welcomed; whether an Asian, Latin American, North American or different parts of
Europe, all are welcome to come and start operating direct routes in the
Alkhuraisi also confirmed that a new national
carrier would be soon launched in Saudi Arabia, which was earlier announced by
the Saudi Minister of Transport Saleh Al-Jasser during the recently concluded
Future Aviation Forum.