The inaugural Future Aviation Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia saw global aviation leaders discuss how to set the course for a resilient and sustainable recovery of the global aviation sector, post-pandemic. More than 120 speakers, and over 2,000 attendees took part in the event.
In a sign of confidence for the months and years ahead, transport ministers, heads of civil aviation authorities, and top executives at global aviation companies also used the occasion to sign more than 50 deals, amounting to US$2.7 billion (10bn SAR) in value. The deals signed include bilateral air services agreements that will increase connectivity between the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa, as well as collaborations on sustainability, human capital development, airport operation deals, and technology partnerships.
The Riyadh Aviation Declaration was also presented at the event, a document that establishes six guiding principles for the future of aviation. The principles are intended to be definitive in orientating the global aviation sector to enhance innovation, sustainability and growth by encouraging cooperation at multilateral, regional and national levels, as well as fostering a customer- and passenger-centric direction for the industry.
Saudi Arabia’s minister of transport and logistical services, Saleh Al-Jasser, presented the Riyadh Aviation Declaration and described its adoption as a critical moment for global aviation. “The Riyadh Aviation Declaration outlines a vision for the future of global aviation, and the concrete steps we have taken to make this vision a reality. Our declaration is a key moment for global aviation,” said Al-Jasser.
Six guiding principles for the future of aviation
Signatories to the Riyadh Aviation Declaration commit to:
1: Enhance the alignment of the global aviation regulatory architecture for preparedness and responsiveness to health or other disruptions, to deliver more consistent, safe and seamless travel experiences for customers
2: Support the goal of a sustainable and inclusive recovery of the aviation sector, through long-term policies that foster global collaboration, engagement and partnership
3: Promote increased investment in innovation across public and private sectors, to advance future aviation technologies and solutions that advance the travel, logistics and related industries
4: Enable the further human capital development of the aviation industry, by investing to meet current and future skills needs
5: Lead dialogue and action on sustainability
6: Champion the role of the aviation industry in contributing to positive global and national economic, social and cultural outcomes.
Following the reported success of the inaugural Future Aviation Forum, Saleh Al-Jasser confirmed that the Forum will be a recurring event every two years, returning to Riyadh in 2024.
The forum is part of the Saudi Aviation Strategy, a plan to embrace privatisation to transform the entire Saudi Arabian aviation ecosystem. Its goal is to create a global investment environment that empowers the sector’s contribution to the Kingdom’s GDP, while enabling the national tourism strategy and meeting the Kingdom’s growing cargo needs. It aims to lead Saudi Arabia to become the number one aviation sector in the Middle East by 2030, driven by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The strategy is backed by private sector and government investments and is developing Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation sector across the Kingdom’s airports, airlines, aircraft and amenities. This includes extending connectivity from 99 to more than 250 destinations across 29 airports, tripling annual passenger traffic to 330 million, including two global long-haul connecting hubs, and increasing air cargo capacity to 4.5 million tons.
Led by the Kingdom’s regulator, the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), the strategy will elevate Saudi aviation by supporting industries that fall under the civil aviation sector to enable their ability to adapt to global change, enhance their competitiveness and raise the level of services provided to passengers, with a focus on creating a sustainable future.