Interview with Fahad Almuhaysin, Manager of the Saudia Airlines for Italy and Greece. 

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Sau­dia) is the national flag carrier of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and was founded

in 1945. Sau­dia operates national and inter­national scheduled flights to more than 95 destinations on all continents. In 2012, Saudia, the first member of the Middle East, joined SkyTeam, signing agree­ments with alliance member air­lines, thus consolidating its in­ternational vocation. From Italy, operational fli­ghts depart from Fiumicino and Malpensa airports connecting Italy with Jeddah and Riyadh. To the Manager of the Sau­dia Airlines for Italy and Gree­ce, Fahad Almuhaysin, we asked what are the prospects for the aviation sector following the pandemic.

Saudi Arabia has introdu­ced the tourist visa since the end of 2019. What has chan­ged for travel from Italy to your country?

Saudi Arabia has tempora­rily suspended tourism due to the pandemic. However, once the country is ready to welcome back travelers from across the globe, visitors from almost 50 countries – including Italy – will be eligible to apply for a tourist visa online through the King­dom’s eVisa portal ahead of their trip or obtain a visa on arri­val. The convenient multiple-en­try eVisa is valid for a period of one year and allows tourists to spend up to 90 days in the coun­try. This creates exciting oppor­tunities for Italian visitors to experience Saudi Arabia’s rich he­ritage, vibrant culture, and di­verse areas of natural beauty. As part of Vision 2030, the wise leadership’s roadmap for the di­versification of the economy, we are on track to welcome 100 million tourists by the end of the decade. As the Kingdom’s na­tional carrier, we look forward to sharing warm Saudi hospita­lity with travelers from Italy.

The pandemic has seve­rely penalized air transport. What are the forecasts for the aviation sector for 2021? And what are the predictions for Saudia Airlines?

The continuing rollout of COVID-19 vaccination pro­grams around the world is crea­ting a renewed sense of optimi­sm for the global aviation indu­stry. Air travel in the region is gaining momentum and will continue to grow, particularly in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom’s tourism giga-projects and the emergence of Saudi cities as leading international business hubs are attracting travelers to the country, while the numbers of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims are also set to increase thanks to the government’s success in over­coming the challenges of the pandemic. Preparations are well underway to restart services across SAUDIA’s full network following the announcement from the authorities that interna­tional flights can resume from May 17. We are confident that air traffic will quickly be resto­red to pre-pandemic levels.

Who is the typical traveler of Saudia Airlines?

Until fairly recently, the majority of our guests would have typically been Saudi citi­zens, expatriate workers, and pilgrims. However, we expect to witness a remarkable diver­sity from all corners of the glo­be once the country has opened its doors again to inbound tou­rism. Tourists will get to explo­re exciting opportunities and enjoy sightseeing, outdoor ad­ventures, and Saudi culture. The Kingdom has so much to offer visitors from all nationali­ties and backgrounds, and it will give us great pleasure to extend a warm welcome with traditional Arabic hospitality once that happens.

What does the customer expect for a safe journey with your company?

Naturally, health and safety is one of the top priorities for today’s air passengers. As an industry leader, SAUDIA has introduced several innovative measures designed to ensure guests have a safe and conve­nient travel experience which has earned us the Diamond sta­tus in the APEX Health Safety award powered by Simpli­Flying. We have partnered with top global hygiene brands on a number of initiatives designed to bring our guests greater pea­ce of mind. These include the recent launch of our branded hygiene kits, which celebrate Saudi culture while offering the highest standards of passenger safety. We are proud to say that there have been no cases of Co­vid-19 arising from any of our flights since the beginning of the pandemic, and that we have achieved a 100% vaccination rate among our team members.

 

L.R.

Tribuna Economica

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