RIYADH: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed measures taken by Saudi Arabia to revive the aviation industry as it battles to save more than a quarter of a million related jobs in the Kingdom amid a downturn in travel due to the pandemic.
In 2019, Saudi Arabia’s aviation sector supported 977,000 jobs and SR240 billion ($64 billion) of GDP, IATA said in a statement. The pandemic has put 361,000 of those jobs and SR85 billion of GDP at risk, while passenger demand is not expected to return to 2019 levels before 2024, it said.
The measures Saudi Arabia has taken include: opening up the Kingdom for tourists; removing quarantine for vaccinated travelers; expanding the facilitation of religious traffic to the holy cities; reinstating visa processing for international passengers; enhancing systems and health measures across all airports.
“We welcome the recent steps taken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to restore air travel and enhance the passenger experience during a challenging time for aviation,” said Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and Middle East. “Saudi Arabia recognizes aviation as a catalyst for economic growth and modernization, and we are pleased to see the Kingdom’s continued prioritization of aviation as a key to achieving Vision 2030.”
“After more than one year of border closures, the kick-off of the National Aviation Strategy will bring to life plans to triple the number of passengers to the Kingdom and fly to 250 destinations,” he said.