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Air Connectivity Program is unlocking the potential of aviation in Saudi Arabia

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Majid Khan, CEO of the Air Connectivity Program is on a mission to uncover the huge potential Saudi Arabia holds for airlines worldwide

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands as one of the fastest growing tourism and aviation hubs globally. Clear government strategy, operational support, as well as a fast-increasing stock of world class tourism locations position the country as home of sustained growth in aviation and tourism. Its ambitious Vision 2030 aims to propel the Gulf state into a regional powerhouse in both the aviation and hospitality sectors.

The Saudi Air Connectivity Program (ACP) is an all-in-one partner for connecting airlines to the untapped opportunities in Saudi Arabia, which is home to 37 million people. Established in 2021, ACP enables connections with partners and authorities, providing market entry, route sustainability and co-marketing support.

Speaking to Air Service One at the 154th IATA Slot Conference in Bogota, Majid Khan, CEO of the Saudi Air Connectivity Program, said: “We work with all airlines where we see potential from our source markets, and it is important for us that they are confident there is a potential. Some airlines might need operational support with slots, while others may need marketing support. It is a partnership”

This recipe has proven successful so far. A number of carriers have launched flights to Saudi Arabia under the guise of the ACP, including British Airways, ITA Airways, LOT Polish Airlines, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Wizz Air to name a few, with Cathay Pacific lined up to join this esteemed portfolio of carriers later this year.

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The Kingdom had initially set a target to welcome 100 million tourists by 2030. That figure was already surpassed in 2023, with the new goal now to reach 150 million tourists, indicating the huge potential the bustling country has as it opens to the world.

Commenting on target markets, Khan explained: “China, Korea, Japan, and other Asian hubs are important because they also provide some connectivity from Australia. At the same time, we see huge potential from the US and Canada to all over Saudi Arabia. Also, we are looking at Brazil, as a fellow G20 member state, since we are not connected with South America at all. Therefore, we see potential to Sao Paolo, because it as an opportunity to connect to all of Latin America. Similarly, Mexico offers an opening to provide connectivity throughout Central America. Another focus market of ours is Europe with potential for both network carriers and LCCs to develop traffic to our network of 29 airports.”

As Saudi Arabia continues to transform its economy and society over the next six years, positioning the country as a global investment, transportation and tourism powerhouse, the ACP will play an important role in actively stimulating air connectivity to enable the Kingdom’s ambitions.

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