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Saudi Arabia set to attract 30 million pilgrims by 2030

Saudi Arabia set to attract 30 million pilgrims by 2030

The Hajj Ministry and the General Authority of Civil Aviation have agreed to partner to provide better air transport services to pilgrims

Yesterday, the Minister of Hajj and Umrah Mohammed Saleh Benten and President of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) Abdul Hakim Mohammed Al-Tamimi met in Makkah and agreed on a plan to meet the kingdom’s plan to attract 30 million Umrah pilgrims by 2030.

The plan includes initiatives to provide air transport networks and infrastructure to support the tens of millions of pilgrims that Saudi Arabia is gearing up to receive by 2030.

Attracting 30 million pilgrims by 2030 is one of the kingdom’s most important goals that it has set out for itself under its Vision 2030 plan.

The plans agreed upon by Benten and Al-Tamimi include implementing ‘Open Air’ policies during Umrah and the Hajj.

The GACA will also help national airlines to increase their seat capacity by aiding additional flights and facilitating partnerships between them and the private sector.

Yesterday, Saudi Arabia’s national daily Arab News also reported that the country was set to appoint a new private-sector operator for the King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah by the second half of next year.

Read: Saudi to appoint new private-sector operator for Jeddah airport in 2019

By opening up air transport to the private sector, the aviation authority plans to build the necessary scale of operations it requires to support the influx of the religious tourists.

Al-Tamimi said that the GACA was working to improve Saudi Arabia’s airports so that it could cope with the increased number of travellers to the country by 2030.

The plans for greater cooperation between the aviation authority and the Haj ministry was facilitated at the directive of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy prime minister and minister of defence.

Earlier this month, Makkah’s Prince Khalid Al-Faisal laid the foundation stone for a new airport in Qunfudah on the Saudi coast.

Read: Saudi prince lays foundation stone for Qunfudah airport

The facility will span 24 million square metres with a 20,340sqm passenger terminal featuring two gates with connection bridges and a first class lounge among other commercial facilities.

When completed, the terminal will be able to handle five flights per hour and roughly 500,000 passengers a year.

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