Saudi Arabia is planning to launch a dedicated airline for Neom, its city of the future, by the end of 2024, the new airline’s CEO, Klaus Goersch, has revealed in a blog post.
Neom Airlines promises to make the traveller journey as seamless as possible by using advanced technology like biometrics and artificial intelligence. Among others, features include bag collection directly from home and delivery to the destination hotel and biometrics advanced enough to recognise the passengers as soon as they step into the airport, bypassing the need of going through security or border control. Goersch also guarantees flight changes will be much easier, “without hassle or cost”.
This ‘new future’ is what we are building in the North West of Saudi Arabia. Ours certainly will not be a generic airline, we will be aiming to elevate every single touch point and your Neom immersion will start before you even board the plane.Klaus Goersch, Neom Airlines CEO
The airline is due to be operational by the end of 2024, enabling travel for tourists, residents and commercial partners to and from Neom’s Bay Airport, which is already open with Saudia flights domestically as well as to London and Dubai. Once completed, operations will move to Neom International Airport, which Goersch expects will become a global aviation hub, due to the strategic geographical location and the foreseen level of economic activity.
Due to a need of servicing the city’s resorts, which will open next year, the airline will retrofit existing aircraft at the beginning, deploying “new innovative aircraft” from 2026. These will be electric, hydrogen powered or even supersonic, with sustainable aviation fuel being provided by mixing facilities in Neom.
Sustainability will stretch into catering, with foods sourced locally 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”, the CEO explained.
There is a freedom in starting from zero and being well funded enough to explore the ideas that challenge the accepted norms. We can be futuristic and efficient, we don’t have to modify or retrofit.Klaus Goersch, Neom Airlines CEO
“I’ve worked for some of the world’s biggest airlines, including British Airways and Air Canada, but I can honestly say the opportunity here is way beyond anything else out there. There is a freedom in starting from zero and being well funded enough to explore the ideas that challenge the accepted norms. We can be futuristic and efficient, we don’t have to modify or retrofit”, Goersch revealed.
The promises do not stop at operations, however. The interiors will also be “next-generations”, featuring big screens with a large product offering on every seat, also compatible with mobile device to give passengers extra flexibility on what they want to watch. The airline also plans to offer 6G wi-fi to accommodate for on-board gaming, chat services and so on.
This is the latest project in the country’s Vision 2030, which aims to attract 100 million visitors by 20230, diversifying the economy from oil. Among others, Saudi Arabia wants to become a regional travel hub, competing with the leaders in the region, Emirates and Qatar. For this, it has just launched a new national airline, Riyadh Air, with the ambition of tripling its air traffic to 330 million passengers by the end of the decade.