Saudi Shoura Council Takes Aim at Much Maligned Saudi Airports, Demands Vision for Change

The Shoura Council asked the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) Wednesday to establish a strategic vision to make Saudi airports among top ranked globally, achieve competitiveness, ensure safety and serve customers in the best manner, according to reports.

Saudis are often embarrassed of their outdated and poorly operated airports and look enviously at other Gulf neighbors whose airports are ranked among the best in the world. In Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic reform plans, the Kingdom envisions being a gateway between East and West, but in order to do that, it will have to woo air travel passengers away from Dubai and Doha and establish a reputation for air travel excellence.

Saudi Arabia's Shoura Council.

Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council.

Saudi Airports are considered among the worst in the world, and last year, one ranking published in CNN had Jeddah’s airport as the world’s worst in all three categories rated: for layovers, overall experience, and sleeping in airports.

The Kingdom has invested billions to overhaul its airports and to build new ones in new destinations across Saudi Arabia. Jeddah’s new upgraded King Abdulaziz International Airport is scheduled to open for full operations in mid-2017, and the Kingdom added a new terminal to Riyadh’s King Fahd airport last year. In 2015, Medina airport got a new, modern look.

The call for the GACA to present a vision comes weeks after the GACA banned ride-sharing apps from operating near all Saudi airports, further worsening customer experience.