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Saudi Arabia: Crown prince announces launch of second national airline

Mohammed bin Salman, who did not say how or when the airline would be created, said it would boost non-oil revenues
Current national carrier, Saudia, has one of the smallest networks in the region, despite Saudia Arabia being the largest Arab economy and biggest country geographically in the Gulf (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia announced on Tuesday that it would launch a second national air carrier, as part of plans to help diversify its oil-dependent economy. 

The proposed plans, laid out by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, could make Saudi Arabia the fifth-ranked globally in air traffic, the official state news agency SPA said. 

Bin Salman, who did not outline how or when the carrier would be created, said the proposed airline could boost Saudi Arabia's non-oil revenue to $12bn by 2030. 

"The comprehensive strategy aims to position Saudi Arabia as a global logistics hub connecting the three continents," the crown prince was quoted as saying in the SPA report.

"This will help other sectors like tourism, Hajj and Umrah to achieve their national targets."

Double air cargo capacity

Saudi Arabia's current national carrier, Saudia, has one of the smallest airline networks in the region, despite the kingdom being the largest Arab economy and the biggest country geographically in the Gulf.

The SPA said that the creation of another airline would increase international destinations from Saudi Arabia to more than 250 and double air cargo capacity to more than 4.5m tonnes. 

Earlier this year, local media reported that Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund planned to build a new airport in Riyadh as part of the new airline launch, without giving further details.