(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia plans to invest SR200 billion in air transport industry in the next five years, Muhammad Jamjoom, vice president for safety and licenses at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), said yesterday.
The massive spending in the sector is planned to meet the requirements of increasing air traffic in the Kingdom as a result of its growing population and unprecedented economic development.
Jamjoom did not give details of how the government is going to spend this huge amount. GACA has already embarked on multibillion riyal projects for the expansion of King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh.
GACA Vice President Faisal Al-Sugair said preliminary studies and design work for the development and expansion of the Riyadh airport have been completed and construction work will begin soon.
The new Jeddah airport is expected to be operational in 2014 and its capacity would increase from 17 to 30 million passengers a year. The KAIA expansion project is estimated to cost SR27 billion.
Khaled Al-Molhem, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines, spoke about the fast expanding air transport industry. "About 7 million people come to the Kingdom from different countries every year. The Umrah sector is growing fast at the rate of 35 percent a year."
The Saudia chief disclosed his organization's plan to establish the largest aircraft maintenance plant in the Middle East at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah. "We have already awarded the contract to a company to implement the project and the plant will be ready by 2014," he pointed out.
Muhammad Al-Zeer, chairman of Maz Aviation, described the Kingdom's aviation sector as the largest in the region, adding new aviation projects would require a large number of Saudi workers. "According to our study, the Saudi aviation market can provide 120,000 jobs during the next 10 years."
According to Ahmed Al-Jazzar, director general of Boeing Saudi Arabia, the world would require 33,500 new aircraft during the next 20 years. "The Middle East region alone needs about 2,500 aircraft," he pointed out.