New air route strengthening Saudi-China connectivity has inaugural flight

New air route strengthening Saudi-China connectivity has inaugural flight
New air route strengthening Saudi-China connectivity has inaugural flight

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: With the inaugural flight of China Southern Airlines landing in Riyadh on April 16, Saudi Arabia and Beijing are further enhancing air connectivity.

The Chinese airplane arrived at the King Khalid International Airport at night, carrying approximately 247 passengers, achieving a load factor of 86 percent, according to Al-Ekhbariya Channel.

The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation previously announced the licensing of China Southern Airlines to conduct regular weekly passenger and freight flights from Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen to Riyadh during the summer season of 2024.

This includes four passenger and commercial flights and three cargo flights commencing on April 16.

Ayman Aboabah, CEO of Riyadh Airport Co., informed the media channel that depending on peak seasons, the new route could achieve a utilization rate of up to 90 percent. He emphasized that this reflects substantial demand for the updated passage.

Aboabah also said that another station is scheduled to be operational by June and that plans are in place to attract three to four additional carriers in the coming year.

The CEO added: “We are truly very proud to inaugurate the return of the first Chinese carrier to the Kingdom, operating two weekly flights, transporting 1,140 passengers between Saudi Arabia and China. In fact, this marks the beginning of a series of carriers we are collaborating with under the Air Connectivity Program and with Chinese carriers.” 

In February, top officials from both countries convened for a high-level meeting in Beijing, focusing on investment opportunities, technology transfer, and enhancing economic cooperation. 

The Saudi delegation, led by Abdulaziz Al-Duailej, president of GACA, visited the Asian country to convene a joint round table meeting, exploring cooperation in connectivity and discussing partnership aspects across various areas. 

During the visit, the Kingdom’s representatives emphasized the substantial investments in the sector and reiterated Saudi Arabia’s openness to further opportunities.  

This aligns with GACA’s goal of modernizing the airport system and supports the Kingdom’s tourism sector target of attracting 150 million visitors by 2030. 

In August 2023, the Kingdom’s flag carrier, Saudia, launched its first direct flight between Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport and Beijing Daxing International Airport.

That move was in line with the Saudi Aviation Strategy, which recognizes the need to increase air connectivity with key markets such as China while accommodating increasing demand from international tourists seeking to discover the Kingdom. 

Before the Jeddah—Beijing route was launched, passengers visiting China from Saudi Arabia could only visit the southern city of Guangzhou.  

Saudia announced at that time that it would operate two flights from Jeddah to the Chinese capital every Monday and Friday, adding that passengers from Riyadh could also travel directly to Beijing every Sunday and Wednesday. 

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