25 August 2021: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomes the commitment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to further reopen borders and resume international air connectivity. Saudi Arabia has taken measures to ease travel restrictions to the Kingdom and enhance passenger facilitation with the necessary health protocols to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, by:
• 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. 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”, said Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA's Regional Vice President for Africa and Middle East.
In 2019, a total 977,000 jobs and SAR240bn of GDP were supported by aviation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The crisis has put 361,000 of those jobs and SAR85bn at risk. Restoring connectivity is key to speeding up the recovery of Saudi Arabia's international market as passenger demand is not expected to return to 2019 levels before 2024.
“Prior to the pandemic, Saudi Arabia was one of the most connected countries regionally and internationally in the Middle East. The impact of the crisis has been significant, with a 96% fall in connectivity compared to before the pandemic. The recent measures to open borders and ease travel restrictions are essential to restoring Saudi Arabia's connectivity as well as realizing the Kingdom's Vision 2030”, continued Alawadhi.
“We continue to call on governments, including the government of Saudi Arabia, to remove all travel barriers to help restore demand and revive the travel and tourism sectors that countries greatly depend on for their economies,” he concluded.