Saudia starts non-stop flights from Paris to Al-‘Ula

Saudia inaugurated Paris CDG to Al-‘Ula on January 27. The new and unusual route is designed for tourism, with Al-‘Ula (marketed as AlUla) “the world’s largest living museum.” The area is promoted as the intersection of the Silk Road and the Incense Route. Saudia’s new offering was followed two days later by a charter service on the same route by ASL Airlines.

Al-‘Ula is known for its desert landscape and activity, archaeology, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and multiple festivals, such as the Tantora Festival. It is developing historical and cultural tourism, part of the ambitious Saudi Vision 2030 to diversify the country’s economy away from oil by attracting 100 million tourists. As part of this, e-visas are now available.


A temporary new service

Saudia’s operation from Paris to Al-‘Ula will run once a week until March 20, according to the airline’s booking system, rather than the 27th as others say. It uses 298-seat B787-9s, with 24 seats in business and 274 in economy. The schedule is as follows, with all times local.

  • Jeddah to Paris CDG: SV3229, 09:40-13:50
  • Paris CDG to Al-‘Ula: SV3228, 15:20-22:30
  • Al-‘Ula to Jeddah: SV3228, 23:30-01:05+1 the next day

Note that Al-‘Ula is only connected non-stop by France. To return, passengers in Riyadh to Jeddah have to transfer to various services. However, there was one exception. On January 30, Saudia operated Jeddah-Al-‘Ula-Paris-Al-‘Ula-Jeddah. The rest of the time it is weekly and one way.

Saudia to Al-'Ula

The first flight on January 27 lasted four hours and 42 minutes. Image: Flightradar24.

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Al-‘Ula’s first international flight was two months ago

Saudia’s new service comes just over two months after the airport’s first international flight began. On November 21, flynas (Saudi Arabia’s other main airline) departed for Dubai, followed by Kuwait. Both arrived very shortly after the carrier’s first domestic routes from Al-‘Ula, which included Dammam, Riyadh and Riyadh. Speaking at the launch, Philip Jones, Chief Destination Management and Marketing Officer at Royal Commission for Al-‘Ula said:

“We welcome flynas to Al-‘Ula… a place like no other in the world. We encourage residents of the Kingdom to experience its unique culture and heritage now while having the destination to themselves.”

flynas Al-Ula to Dubai

Flynas not only launched Al-Ula’s first international services in November 2021, but also started domestic routes that month. Photo: Flynas.

Saudia also started from Riyadh to Entebbe

Saudia has started another route, with Riyadh departing for Entebbe on February 2. Entebbe serves Kampala, the capital and largest city of Uganda. In 2021, some 23,000 passengers flew between Saudi Arabia and Entebbe, booking data shows. From Riyadh to Entebbe was the largest market.

Serviced twice a week, the new airport pair offers a faster and easier alternative for transit en route in Dubai, Doha, Addis Ababa, Sharjah or Cairo. It has the following schedule, with all times local.

  • Riyadh to Entebbe: SV491, 02:10-07:15
  • Entebbe to Riyadh: SV490, 08:45-13:25

Saudia Entebbe

Saudia’s first arrival in Entebbe was greeted with a water salute and cake. Photo: Entebbe International Airport.

300 passengers on first departure

The route mainly uses A330-300s with 330 seats, 300 seats in economy and 30 in business. With only 9% of the seats being premium, it is well suited to the nature of the market. According to a Ugandan newspaper, the first departure from Entebbe-Riyadh had 300 passengers, mostly migrant workers.

What do you think of Saudia’s two new routes? Let us know in the comments.

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