The airline will be focused on enabling travel for tourists, residents and commercial partners to and from NEOM
NEOM Airlines, Saudi Arabia’s latest airline dedicated to serving the $500bn futuristic city in the country’s northwest region, is set to take to the skies at the end of the fourth quarter of 2024.
The airline will be focused on enabling travel for tourists, residents and commercial partners to and from NEOM, Klaus Goersch, the airline’s CEO said in a blog post.
“We are there to enable the destination. Our goal is a holistic and interconnected approach, with NEOM Airlines enabling the gross domestic product of NEOM,” said Goersch.
NEOM Airlines will fly out of NEOM Bay Airport, which opened in 2019 and operates Saudia flights domestically and to London and Dubai as well as flyDubai connecting the tourist destination with Dubai. The carrier will eventually transfer to NEOM International Airport at a later date.
“Organically, due to the strategic geographical location and the level of economic activity here, we expect that we will have a global aviation hub on our hands as time goes on – servicing the Middle East, Europe, America, Asia and so on,” added Goersch, a former chief operating officer of British Airways and Air Canada.
NEOM Airlines’ ambition is that every flight will be powered by sustainable fuel onboard – originating from mixing facilities at NEOM. The carrier’s sustainability goes will go as far as catering, with foods sourced locally from NEOM and delivered via on-demand dining at a time when customers feel like eating.
Goersch said his planned airline will look at every single component right down to the carpets and single-use plastics.
NEOM Airlines’ unique approach
The airline aims to, eventually, “elevate every single touch point” with an immersive and digitally enhanced experience that will begin long before you board the plane.
The carrier will be an extension of NEOM: the place, the company, the vision and its mission are to advance the destination.
The airline will be an ambassador, a showcase for the city. Therefore, it has to be a very good product and it has to reflect the values of the overall project. Goersch underscored that the ultimate ambition of Saudi Arabia’s latest airline is to make customers “not think about being on a plane or in an airport,” but simply enjoy the experience.
NEOM is tech-centric, however, the airline’s CEO said the panned carrier would be retrofitting existing aircraft without providing exact details of the make-up of the fleet.
The airline is already in discussions with plane, interior and seat manufacturers, but 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.”
Connecting to the world
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia awarded a multi-year contract to a US-based infrastructure consulting firm AECOM to provide project management consultancy services for NEOM International Airport.
AECOM’s scope will include project management for master planning, design and construction services, through to testing, commissioning, operational readiness, activation and transition.
The kingdom aims to increase direct connectivity to the futuristic city as part of its broader strategy to promote the further development of the giga-project, which is being developed by local, regional and international companies.
Saudia, the Gulf state’s flag carrier partnered with NEOM in May 2022 and began offering weekly service to international destinations from the city in June of the same year, marking the inauguration of commercial services at the NEOM Bay.
Saudi Arabia recently launched a new national carrier Riyadh Air and the premium airline is also expected to fly to NEOM. The launch of Riyadh Air is part of the kingdom’s strategy to help kick-start its tourism industry and make it a more popular destination for leisure and business.