Saudia Schedules London Route From Planned Mega-City

London Heathrow will become the second international destination to be served from Neom.

Credit: Rob Finlayson

London is set to receive a nonstop connection to Neom in Saudi Arabia, a planned $500 billion mega-city in the northwest of the country.

Saudia has scheduled the launch of a service between Neom Bay (NUM) and London Heathrow (LHR) from Dec. 7, operating once a week using Boeing 787-9 aircraft. The 3,956-km (2,136-nm) route will have a westbound flying time of about 5 hr. 40 min.

London will become the second international destination to be served from Neom Bay alongside Dubai (DXB), which was opened by the airline in August. Flights to the emirate currently operate once a week using Airbus A320s.

Saudia is the only carrier to offer commercial service from Neom Bay at the present time having first launched domestic flights from the airport in October 2019. In addition to Dubai, OAG data shows that it offers five flights per week to Riyadh (RUH), two to Jeddah (JED) and one to Dammam (DMM).

Plans to construct Neom were first unveiled five years ago by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The project forms part of the country’s Saudi Vision 2030, a plan to reduce its dependence on oil and diversify its economy.

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It is envisaged that Neom will be a smart city covering a total area of 26,500 km2 (10,200 mi.2), extending along the coast of the Red Sea. The project will include a scheme known as The Line, a linear city stretching 177-km (110-mi.) long and 200-m wide that will house nine million residents and run on 100% renewable energy.

Saudi Arabia originally hoped to complete major parts of Neom by 2020 but the project is behind schedule. It has also been blighted by human rights controversies, including reports of death sentences for members of the native Howeitat tribe for resisting displacement.

Alongside the new London Heathrow service, Saudia last week confirmed it intends to resume flights to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) from Al Ula (ULH), a walled city in northwestern Saudi Arabia home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra. Service will be 1X-weekly from Dec. 4 through March 12, 2023.

Over the coming weeks, the airline has also scheduled an additional 780 shuttle flights connecting Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam to Doha (DOH) for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, with a combined total of 254,000 seats. Saudi Arabia’s soccer team have been placed in Group C along with Argentina, Mexico and Poland.