A new survey by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts that the passenger traffic in the Middle East will be 258mn annually by 2035, registering a strong 5% growth. The travel market will be dominated by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with a growth rate of 6.3%, followed by Qatar with 4.7% and Saudi Arabia with 4.1%. Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines) reported that the number of passengers it carried in 2015 was 5% more than the number in 2014. Last year, the carrier transported 29,492,710 passengers, up by 1,309,095 in 2014.
Owing to the rising number of travellers coming to and going out of the Middle East, Saudia, the leading state-owned airline in Saudi Arabia, has decided to add 200 aircraft to its fleet by the year 2020. On Saudi Arabia’s National Day this year, the Ministry of Transportation declared that Saudia will have another 63 new passenger aeroplanes (including both domestic-purpose and international-purpose planes) added to its fleet. The new fleet includes 35 Airbus A320/A321neo, 15 Boeing 777-300ER, and 13 Boeing 787 planes. In 2017, another set of 30 planes, including 22 from A330R, 777-300ER and 787-9 ranges, will be received by Saudi Arabia. To further improve and expand its aviation industry, Saudi Arabia has partnered with many organisations through the General Authority of Civil Aviation. Saudia’s efforts to improve its services and efficiency doesn’t stop here. The carrier’s IT team has given up the traditional enterprise content management (ECM) system to deploy new and advanced Laserfiche ECM solution. With the new platform, tasks like searching, retrieving, and archiving documents has become simpler and smoother. Time taken for document processing and approval has also reduced.
“Saudi Arabian Airlines aims to have 200 aeroplanes, 45mn annual passengers, and 1000 daily flights by the year 2020.”
All these developments are the results of the Kingdom’s determined efforts to bolster the country’s aviation industry. These developments are also a part of the Saudi government’s Vision 2030. As the Vision also focuses on employment of Saudi nationals across all private and public entities, the Ministry of Education has decided to offer 5,000 scholarships to Saudi students to let them pursue aviation and aircraft maintenance courses in the US and Europe. Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) too is helping create job opportunities for nationals, especially women, in airlines. Saudia has announced that it will be employing 300 women in the coming three years. According to local news channels, 221 women will be placed in the catering division at Saudia’s Madinah and Jeddah sites. A total of 120 women have already been employed in Saudia’s logistics and retail units. These strategies and moves indicate that realising Vision 2030 would not be a very difficult task for the country. These moves also suggest that Saudi nationals would fill up a good portion of the country’s modernised aviation industry in the near future.