Inaugural Saudi International Airshow draws hundreds of exhibitors, trade representatives.
The March 12-14 airshow, is underway at Riyadh's Al-Thumamah Airport, on an area of more than 100,000 square meters at the headquarters of its host, the Saudi Aviation Club.
The airshow is aligned with the Kingdom's Vision 2030, which delineates the aviation sector's indispensable role in the diversification and expansion of the national economy through the establishment of new airports and the expansion of existing facilities. Opportunities for both established companies wanting to expand their business and new players seeking to enter the Kingdom's aviation sector are expected to increase dramatically.
Seeking to further integrate Saudi Arabia into the global Aviation and Aerospace industry, the Saudi International Airshow seeks to connect professionals across all segments of the industry and promoting international trade in the aviation industry.
More than 265 exhibitors from around the world, as well as 1,500 international trade figures, including representatives of international companies and aviation bodies, are participating in the three-day event. On Thursday, the exhibition will be open to the general public, with several thousand visitors expected to attend to see the latest developments in the aviation industry.
The airshow has attracted aircraft manufacturers, regional sales agents for private aircraft, business and general aviation aircraft manufacturers, airlines, terminal operators, ground handlers, MRO services, airport equipment and suppliers, aerospace and defence experts, and participants from other areas of the aviation and aerospace industry.
The organisers said in a statement that the airshow is the "first of its kind in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, constituting a milestone in the aviation industry and services in the Middle East" and connects the world's aviation experts and industry players to Saudi Arabia. The event has been organized in response to a huge demand from leading regional industry professionals and will be the first in a series which will take place over the next five years, they said.
The event is being held under the patronage of Prince Faisal Bin Bandar, Governor of Riyadh Region, with the presence of Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Space Agency and Founder and Chairman of Saudi Aviation Club.
Prince Sultan said that the big number of attendees reflects what His Highness has already said: "The Kingdom is ready to be the most attractive country for exhibitions and conferences in the region. This has been done over the last five years by the National Program for Exhibitions and Conferences, which organized this market and put in place the appropriate frameworks that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is reaping the fruits of this organized action in support of this important industry at the global level."
Focus on four sectors of the aviation industry
The initial Saudi International Airshow is focusing on four sectors of the aviation industry: commercial aviation; business and general aviation; aerospace and defence; and airport infrastructure and suppliers.
Commercial aviation continues to expand within the Middle East, driven largely by the growth in supply and demand fueled by major gulf carriers, they said.
"These airlines have committed to further developing their fleets and routes in order to create an aviation hub within the Middle East to boost tourism, business travel and the [regional] economy," the organisers said on the event website.
"Saudi Arabia has had one of the most highly regulated aviation markets in the world and limited foreign involvement. But rising population and affluence has led to a demand for more services and GACA [Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation] expects annual passenger traffic to soar from 65 million in 2012 to 100 million by 2020, including almost a doubling of domestic traffic alone to 28.5 million," they added.
Meanwhile, business aviation in the Middle East continues to see strong growth with both movements and the number of aircraft registered increasing steadily. This sector comprises private aircraft manufacturers, flight schools, helicopter makers, helicopter operators, and corporate and private jets.
"Saudi Arabia represents 30% of the aircraft registered in the Middle East and is one of the largest private jet & GA [general aviation] markets in the Middle East. The rapidly growing economies of the GCC are helping to cement business aviation as a cornerstone of the Middle East Aerospace Industry for years to come. The Middle East regional fleet [is expected] to triple [in size] by 2036," the organisers said.
Saudi Arabia is also one of the Middle East's largest markets in the defence sector, comprising helicopters, helicopter manufacturers and operators, fighter jets, and military transportation, according to the organisers.
In the airport infrastructure and suppliers segment (airport service providers, airside and passenger side services), the airshow offers exceptional opportunities. In Saudi Arabia, a total of 7 airports are due to be renovated completely in the lead-up to the growth of the tourism industry, the organisers said.
Boeing Saudi Arabia is a sponsor of the airshow. In January, Boeing signed an MoU with the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP), the Saudi Industrial Investments Company (Dussur) and Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden) to support the Saudi aerospace industry under the Vision 2030 umbrella. In March 2018, Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) signed an agreement with Boeing to develop the local defence industry. The deal is in line with Vision 2030, and follows the announcement by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that 50 percent of the total military spending will be localized by the end of the next decade.
More than 80 aircraft of different sizes are on display at the airshow ranging in size from single-engine and executive jets to commercial wide body aircraft. They include Boeing 777, 787 and Airbus A380.
Airbus, which is showcasing a wide variety of technologies, products and services, from market-leading commercial and military aircraft to helicopters and satellite systems, has said in a statement: "As one of the largest aerospace markets in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has built an impressive aerospace sector earmarked as a key component and enabler of the country's economic development and diversification plan. Airbus avidly supports this move and has initiated a number of strategic partnerships in the country that have contributed to the development of the industry by providing expertise, services and products which satisfies the strategic objectives of its partners in an increasingly competitive market."
Airbus said it is displaying a model of the wide-body aircraft A330neo featuring advanced materials, new optimised wings, composite Sharklets and highly efficient engines. Emirates is showcasing its flagship Airbus A380 at the airshow, while the Kingdom's national flag carrier Saudia will showcase its Airbus A320, the world's most popular single-aisle aircraft. Airbus Helicopters displays a mock-up of the medium range helicopter H160; Airbus Defence and Space displays a model of the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), the most modern aircraft for military services' in-flight refuelling and airlift requirements; and Airbus is showcasing a mockup of the OneWeb satellite which provides broadband internet access across the globe.
The event is also supported by British multinational defence, security, and aerospace company BAE Systems, major U.S. defence contractor and industrial corporation Raytheon, and Saudi Ground Services (SGS), fuel provider AlShams Energy, among others.
Licences ensure compliance with international standards
The Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said Prince Sultan bin Salman received on Thursday a licence for Al-Thamamah Airport, covering the technical aspects of safe operation of the aviation yard and ensures that they comply with the requirements of international standards stipulated in the general regulations of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACARs). The licence was presented to him on the sidelines of the airshow by the Minister of Transport and Chairman of GACA, Dr. Nabil bin Mohammed Al Amoudi.
GACA also handed over two operational licences for the ground services to two companies, Sky Prime Aviation Services and Jet Aviation, at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.
"The delivery of land services licenses is in accordance with the general regulations of the General Authority of Civil Aviation related to the ground services of the airports and the licensing of all the providers of land services at the Kingdom's airports in accordance with international standards," GACA said in a statement.
"This is in view of the urgent need to regulate ground handling services, licencing of suppliers and operators of ground services, and inspection and auditing of airports, in order to achieve the objectives and strategies of the Authority to develop the civil aviation system.
"This is in line with the Kingdom's Vision 2030 which aims to achieve comprehensive and sustainable development and to build a prosperous future for the country."
These regulations are the first of their kind in the world and GACAR 151 & 68 contribute to the reduction of ground accidents at the Kingdom's airports.
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BNA 1210 GMT 2019/03/14
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