JEDDAH: NEOM airport welcomed its first Saudi Arabian Airlines flight Thursday with 130 passengers on board, the Saudi Press Agency reported. NEOM, a $500 billion megacity in the Kingdom’s northwest, is a key part of Saudi Arabia’s vision to diversify its economy.
Passengers traveled to NEOM on two Airbus A320 planes to familiarize themselves with the area as they are working on the project.
NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr said: “We wanted our employees to experience the project which they have been working on to make a success since its inception last year.
There is a big difference between knowing the details of the project in theory and visiting it practically, exploring its treasures, beauty, and heritage.”
He thanked Saudi Arabian Airlines for facilitating the trip, and said he looked forward to further cooperation with them and with other transport companies to serve NEOM residents and visitors in the future.
NEOM, backed by the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, will operate as an independent economic zone that is powered solely by renewable energy sources and has its own laws and regulations.
Saleh Al-Jasser, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines, said: “We are happy to present this unique opportunity to NEOM employees to visit the location and explore its cultural characteristics and rich environment.
“We strongly believe in this ambitious project and hope that this flight serves as the start of a long-term and prosperous partnership with NEOM and its great opportunities that will support Saudi Vision 2030.”
He added that NEOM would write a new story for the future and economy of the region.
NEOM Bay was chosen for Thursday’s meeting and will be the first area developed in the project.
The entire project encompasses 26,500 sq. km of land, ranging from scenic coastline to desert to snow-capped mountains.
There is a plan to establish a network of airports in NEOM that will include an international airport with world-class standards.
Project planners have identified 16 economic sectors to create a sustainable economy which are expected to eventually generate an estimated annual income of $100 billion.