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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: A dedicated airline for Saudi Arabia’s futuristic city NEOM will take to the skies by the end of 2024, the carrier’s CEO has revealed.
Writing in a blog post, Klaus Goersch set out an ambitious vision for NEOM Airlines, promising that passengers will receive “a completely different travel experience”.
Goersch, who has previously served as chief operating officer of British Airways and Air Canada, argued the new service will be “futuristic and efficient”, adding: “I can honestly say the opportunity here is way beyond anything else out there.”
The development of the airline comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to boost its aviation sector, with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman earlier this month announcing a new carrier, Riyadh Air, which will benefit from a $37 billion aircraft deal with US firm Boeing.
In his blog post, Goersch painted his vision for NEOM Airlines as he set out the “new future” for air travel.
He said: “Just imagine if your bags were collected from your home or office and delivered to the hotel or residence you were going to.
“Imagine if biometrics were advanced enough to recognize you via facial recognition as soon as you walked in a building, security clearing you for travel without the need for even going through a gate – let alone having to bother with a visa.
“And just imagine the time of your meeting changed by a few hours and you were able to change your flight to a later one, without hassle or cost.
“Better still, imagine you are collecting loyalty points at the airport – where the whole place is lounge-style service – as well as while flying and when using the facilities in your destination, because everything is owned by the same company.”
Goersch went on to say the airline will initially retrofit existing aircraft in order to get the carrier up and running, before shifting to new planes.
“Come 2026 onwards, there will be new innovative aircraft – whether it be electric, hydrogen-powered or supersonic – and next-generation interiors coming online from us. We are already in discussions with plane, interior and seat manufacturers,” he wrote.
In keeping with NEOM’s pledge to be environmentally-friendly Goersch said the airline’s ambition is for every flight to have “ some sustainable fuel onboard” originating from mixing facilities at NEOM.
He added: “Sustainability will even stretch into the catering, with foods sourced locally from here and delivered via on-demand dining at a time when you actually feel like eating.
“We will look at every single component right down to the carpets and single-use plastics.
“Little things like this will accumulate and add up to more than the sum of their parts.”
The $500 billion NEOM megaproject is set to transform the Kingdom’s northwest Red Sea coast to a high-tech hub.
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