NEOM Airlines, an airline dedicated to serve the mega NEOM project in the north west of Saudi Arabia, is expected to begin operations at the end of Q4 2024, its Chief Executive Officer says.
The airline will be focused on enabling travel for tourists, residents, and commercial partners to and from NEOM, says Klaus Goersch in an article on NEOM's website.
The airline will be an extension of NEOM: the place, the company, the vision.
"We are there to enable the destination. Our goal is a holistic and interconnected approach, with NEOM Airlines enabling the gross domestic product of NEOM," says Goersch, a former chief operating officer of British Airways and Air Canada.
The airline will be an ambassador, a showcase for NEOM. Therefore, it has to be a very good product and it has to reflect the values of the overall project. It’s not just an airline, it’s a brand extension and a linear part of the travel experience because you remember the way you got there as well as the place itself, says . Our ultimate ambition is that you will not think about being on a plane or in an airport, you will simply enjoy the experience. Wouldn’t that be something?
"NEOM's resorts will be going live in early 2024, so we need to service that demand quickly, initially retrofitting existing aircraft with existing technology. But come 2026 onwards, there will be new innovative aircraft – whether it be electric, hydrogen-powered or supersonic – and next-generation interiors coming online from us. We are already in discussions with plane, interior and seat manufacturers," he says .
In the first instance the airline will fly out of NEOM Bay Airport, which is already open with Saudia flights domestically as well as to London and Dubai, and then from the NEOM International Airport.
"Organically, due to the strategic geographical location and the level of economic activity here, we expect that we will have a global aviation hub on our hands as time goes on – servicing the Middle East, Europe, America, Asia and so on," he says.
The ambition is that every flight that the airline operates will have some sustainable fuel onboard – originating from mixing facilities at NEOM, says Goersch.
"Sustainability will even stretch into the catering, with foods sourced locally from here and delivered via on-demand dining at a time when you actually feel like eating. We will look at every single component right down to the carpets and single-use plastics. Little things like this will accumulate and add up to more than the sum of their parts," he says.
The unique position of building an airline and airport from scratch provides the freedom to personalise the customer experience in a way not seen before in the aviation industry, he wrote in NEOM website.
The airline and airport will start from scratch, learning the lessons of history and embracing advanced technology like biometrics and artificial intelligence.
"This legacy-free approach is how we are working at NEOM. We have no outdated infrastructure or business models to protect, meaning we can provide a personalized service," he says.
"Just imagine if your bags were collected from your home or office and delivered to the hotel or residence you were going to. Imagine if biometrics were advanced enough to recognize you via facial recognition as soon as you walked in a building, security clearing you for travel without the need for even going through a gate – let alone having to bother with a visa. And just imagine the time of your meeting changed by a few hours and you were able to change your flight to a later one, without hassle or cost. Better still, imagine you are collecting loyalty points at the airport – where the whole place is lounge-style service – as well as while flying and when using the facilities in your destination, because everything is owned by the same company." he adds giving examples.
"Ours certainly will not be a generic airline, we will be aiming to elevate every single touch point and your NEOM immersion will start before you even board the plane in London, New York, Paris and so on. The goal is to make the traveller journey as seamless as possible. Due to the fact we are building a new destination, new airports and a new airline all at the same time – there is a sense that we can achieve this to a level that just has not been seen before," says Goersch.
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