On Thursday 1 June, Saudi Arabian airline SAUDIA launched its inaugural flight from King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to London Gatwick Airport.
This launch is part of the implementation stages of the airline’s new strategy, aimed at expanding its reach to new international destinations, and connecting the world to the Kingdom.
It aligns with the vision of SAUDIA Group to operate flights to 25 destinations across 3 continents.
The inaugural flight of SAUDIA, SV119, departed from King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to the city of London.
The event was attended by Mrs. Cecille El Beleidi, the British Consul General in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Mr. Mohammed Baakdhah, Vice President of Ground Operations at SAUDIA. In inauguration ceremony was held at the AlFursan Lounge, signalling the departure of the first flight at the Jeddah airport.
Mr. Mohammad Baakdhah highlighted the importance of strengthening relations between the two countries through the launch of new destinations by SAUDIA to Gatwick Airport, and soon to Birmingham.
These additions will join the existing flights to London Heathrow Airport and Manchester International Airport.
He further explained that the increase in destinations is accompanied by an unprecedented development of the SAUDIA fleet, ensuring the achievement of operational targets, in addition to continuous improvement in the digital service system.
Service welcomed by South East region
The inauguration of flight services from Jeddah was welcomed by airport authorities as well as the Sussex Chamber of Commerce.
Saudi Arabia is a top trading partner for the region, and the scheduled services represent a boost for businesses in the south-east of England, as well as providing more flexible travel options.
Between April 2022 and March 2023, 17% of all goods and services exported by businesses in Sussex, Surrey and Kent went to Saudi Arabia – more than any other destination.
Among the main exports include manufacturing and engineering goods, bio-life sciences, and pharmaceutical items.
These trade volumes – and the jobs they support – will be boosted by this new SAUDIA route, with the majority of cargo at Gatwick being transported in the belly of long-haul passenger flights.
The service is set to operate six times a week, which will increase to daily flights in August.
Jonathan Pollard, Chief Commercial Officer, London Gatwick said: “At London Gatwick, we continue to provide new global routes that support jobs, trade and opportunities for people and businesses across the South East.
“With Saudia’s base in Jeddah, this new route also provides excellent onward connections to destinations such as Pakistan, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh.”
Ana Christie, Chief Executive, Sussex Chamber of Commerce said: “Sussex Chamber is delighted to hear that Gatwick is expanding its routes to Saudi Arabia.”
“This is one of the largest export markets for Sussex businesses, who export a multitude of manufacturing and engineering goods, as well as bio-life sciences, and pharmaceutical items.”
“Sussex Chamber provides essential trade documentation for hundreds of businesses, the majority of which export to the Middle East.
“This new route at London Gatwick will allow businesses to expand business relations, explore new opportunities in Saudi Arabia and help attract inward investment back into the area, which will lead to economic growth.”