Jeddah's new airport welcomes first commercial flight

The new airport is a major milestone for Saudi Arabia and will help meet the goals of Vision 2030 to support and drive the Kingdom’s economic development.
Updated 29 May 2018

Jeddah's new airport welcomes first commercial flight

  • The airport’s “soft launch” will be completed in four phases to ensure it is fully functional and employees are fully trained ahead of the facility’s official opening early next year
  • Additional gates will open in line with the growth in capacity, with a focus on passenger security and safety

The first commercial flight to land at the new King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah has signaled a major milestone for the facility, due to open early next year.

Operations are being phased in at the airport, with the commercial flight welcomed by a General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) senior management team on Tuesday.

The airport’s “soft launch” will be completed in four phases to ensure it is fully functional and employees are fully trained ahead of the facility’s official opening early next year.

When it opens the airport will operate 46 gates, but during the soft launch a limited number of flights will be managed through six gates. 

Additional gates will open in line with the growth in capacity, with a focus on passenger security and safety. 

The GACA’s approach is designed to avoid issues faced by other international airports that opened for operations before they were ready.

Abdulhakim bin Muhammad Al-Tamimi, GACA’s president, said: “The new airport is a major milestone for Saudi Arabia and will help meet the goals of Vision 2030 to support and drive the Kingdom’s economic development. The airport provides a platform that will allow the Kingdom to play a greater role as a regional hub for transport and logistics services, and support the growing number of pilgrims to the Two Holy Mosques.”

Referring to the phasing in of operations, Al-Tamimi said this was a responsible approach adopted by most major infrastructure projects in the world.

“Delivering world-class security, safety and customer experience for all our passengers is at the heart of the vision of new GACA and we will achieve this by testing facilities in a controlled and disciplined manner.

“Our measure of success is not to have everything running perfectly on day one but to ensure that we are prepared for the full operational launch in 2019,” he said.

Al-Tamimi expressed his gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their support of the civil aviation sector and the new airport.

He also thanked Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal and Makkah Deputy Gov. Prince Abdullah bin Bandar for their help in completing operational requirements at the airport.

The new airport will be a world-class resource and “a projection of the Kingdom’s ambitions to the world,” Al-Tamimi said. 


US denies banning dates from Saudi Arabia

Updated 8 min 3 sec ago

US denies banning dates from Saudi Arabia

  • There has been no FDA ban on dates from Saudi Arabia, the administration told Arab News

RIYADH: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has denied that it banned the import of dates from Saudi Arabia, following media reports that it had done so earlier this week.

“There has been no FDA ban on dates from Saudi Arabia,” the administration told Arab News. The Saudi National Center for Palms & Dates (NCPD) also denied the reports.

The NCPD pointed out that reports published mentioned the finding of pesticide residues in date samples from a Saudi company dating back to 2009.

In a statement on Sunday, the NCPD said that the US FDA published on its website a list of all the companies “classified by country” which did not meet US standards.

It added that the FDA required companies to update their information with it as and when that changed.

Bashar Al-Quraya, deputy chairman of the Dates Committee of Al-Qassim Chamber of Commerce, told Arab News that the information did not come from reliable sources. “We did not see any real official statements,” he said.

The center stressed that they work with the relevant authorities to raise the level of date safety in general for products sold in local or export markets.

“Saudi Arabia is considered number one in date quality,” Al-Quraya said, adding that when they export dates to Germany and the UK, the entry procedures go very smoothly. “There are no problems and the procedures are very simple and clear.”

Al-Quraya also pointed out that for the last two months of growth before harvesting the crop, no pesticides are sprayed on Saudi dates, and the exported fruits are subjected to tests before shipping.

“The rumors did not affect the market. I am now at the food fair in Dubai, there is a great demand for Saudi dates from European countries,” he said.

“If there was a problem with our dates the news should come from the UK or Germany, as the number of dates we export (there) are much bigger than what we export to the US,” he added.