Saudia expands European network to Zurich

Saudia expands European network to Zurich
1 / 2
Saudia expands European network to Zurich
2 / 2
Short Url
Updated 05 August 2022

Saudia expands European network to Zurich

Saudia expands European network to Zurich

Wednesday was an important day both for Saudia and Zurich airport, but more importantly for the connection between Saudi Arabia and Switzerland.

It was 12 years since it had last happened, but in the early afternoon of Aug. 3 the first flight from Riyadh arrived in Zurich.

In Riyadh, the Swiss Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Andre Schaller and Chief Commercial Officer Arved Nikolaus Von Zur Muehlen, as well as other senior airline executives and government representatives, formed the farewell committee.

In Zurich the welcoming committee included Adel Siraj S. Merdad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Switzerland, Hesham Bindkhail, Saudia’s head of Europe operations, as well as senior representatives from Zurich airport and the Saudi tourism authority. The mood was convivial and Saudia officials and representatives of Zurich airport were excited.

“Saudia adding another important destination in Europe reflects Saudi Arabia’s great reforms of Vision 2030 guided by HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud,” Ambassador Adel Siraj S. Merdad said.

This new route has to be seen in the context of the airline’s air connectivity program where Saudia is expanding its network and destinations globally. In Europe alone, the airline has so far added three airports this year: Amsterdam, Barcelona and Zurich, as well as Malaga and Mykonos as seasonal destinations.

This will doubtless strengthen the relationship between the two countries. Merdad hopes that this new route will bring closer ties between people living in Switzerland and people living in Saudi Arabia.

Beyond that, Saudia hopes that this new route will strengthen both tourism and business relations between the two countries. Saudia has daily direct flights between Jeddah and Geneva and Riyadh and Geneva.

Bindkhail expects the new route to bring tourists and business people to the Kingdom and vice versa to Switzerland — especially as Zurich is the major financial and business hub of the Alpine nation. Swiss ambassador Schaller said he hoped that many tourists from both countries would discover the natural beauty, cultural richness and warm hospitality of both Saudi Arabia and Switzerland.

Developing the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia is an integral part of Saudi Vision 2030, as is the development of the economy beyond the petroleum industry. The new route between Switzerland, a country boasting a GDP of $740 billion, and Saudi Arabia with its GDP of $700 billion (all 2020 figures) is an important milestone for these goals.

Saudia had been the Kingdom’s flag carrier for 77 years and has been called the “wings of Vision 2030.”

Like everywhere in Saudi Arabia these days, ambitions are high. The airline has one of the youngest fleets, with an average age of 6.5 years for its 144 aircraft, and is flying to 100 destinations (including seasonal destinations) — and counting.

Saudi Vision 2030 is bold and ambitious, as are the plans for the country’s flag carrier. According to Bindkhail the ambition is to grow Saudia massively and have the carrier connect people between countries such as India and Europe — allowing them a stopover in the Kingdom for a minimal fee.

This makes sense for Muslims choosing to undertake Umrah. It also gives travelers the opportunity to explore historic tourism sites such as AlUla, the future Red Sea resort destinations or to enjoy the Riyadh Season or experience the “Winter Wonderland.”

The new Riyadh-Zurich flight is another piece of the plan reflecting Saudia’s status as the “wings of vision 2030.”