Seoul Becomes Latest Point In Saudia’s Network

The launch follows the introduction of new routes to Barcelona and Zurich.

Credit: Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo

Saudia has launched its first nonstop flights between Riyadh and the South Korean capital of Seoul.

The 7,488-km (4,043-nm) route will operate three times per week using Boeing 787-9 aircraft with 274 economy seats and 24 in business class. It becomes the sole nonstop link between Saudi Arabia and Korea.

Saudia acting CEO Ahmed Alwassiah said the flights would increase tourism and strengthen economic links. He added that the flight schedule would be “under constant review to ensure that flights and seating capacity successfully meet operational requirements.”

The new route to Seoul Incheon (ICN), home to SkyTeam alliance partner Korean Air, forms part of the Saudi Aviation Strategy, which aims to connect the kingdom to more than 250 destinations by 2030.

The country’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) plans to invest more than $100 billion in the aviation sector before the end of the decade, helping to boost the capacity of airports to handle 330 million passengers.

Flights will depart Riyadh King Khalid (RUH) at 3.20 a.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, arriving in Seoul Incheon at 7.50 p.m. The return service leaves ICN at 9.40 p.m. and returns to Riyadh at 2.10 a.m. the following day.

The Riyadh-Seoul route comes after Saudia launched flights between Jeddah (JED) to Barcelona (BCN) in July, and Riyadh and Zurich (ZRH) earlier this month.

The market between Saudi Arabia and Korea has been unserved since December 2016 when Korean Air suspended is RUH-ICN flights. According to Sabre Market Intelligence data, O&D traffic between the countries totaled almost 50,500 two-way passengers in 2019, all of which was indirect.