New Saudi office is not regional HQ, says Iata

Issac John /Dubai Filed on July 7, 2021
Reuters file photo

Iata, which represents some 290 airlines around the world, currently has its regional office in Jordan’s capital Amman.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said on Wednesday it would set up an office in Saudi Arabia, but denied claims by some quarters that it would function as its regional headquarters.

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) late on Wednesday announced it had signed a “headquarters agreement” with Iata to open its “regional office in the kingdom.” But Iata said it had agreed to set up an office in Saudi Arabia but not a regional headquarters.

The agreement was signed by President of the GACA Abdulaziz Al Duailej and Vice President of the Iata for Africa and Middle East region Kamel Hassan Al Awadi at the GACA’s headquarters in Riyadh.

Speaking on the occasion, the GACA chief wished the Iata success, highlighting the importance of strengthening joint and effective cooperation with international and regional organizations for the progress in the air transport sector at the local and global levels.

The agreement comes as part of the Kingdom’s interest to support regional and international civil aviation organisations and to provide them with various forms of support for their role in developing air transport, to complement the Kingdom’s efforts to support and empower organizations based in the Kingdom.

Iata, which represents some 290 airlines around the world, currently has its regional office in Jordan’s capital Amman.

“The Saudi office serves the growing needs of the industry in (Saudi Arabia). We have a regional headquarters ... in Amman and we are not moving its functions to (Saudi Arabia),” an Iata spokesperson said.

GACA did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. Saudi Arabia is putting pressure on companies to move their regional offices to the kingdom, warning that from 2024 it would not award state contracts to those with regional headquarters elsewhere. The move is one of many recent economic and social reforms in an effort to diversify the economy away from its oil dependence. Saudi Arabia last week announced a transportation and logistics drive aimed at making the kingdom the fifth-biggest air transit hub. —


Issac John

Editorial Director of Khaleej Times, is a well-connected Indian journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the UAE's mainstream journalism for 35 years, including 23 years with Khaleej Times. A post-graduate in English and graduate in economics, he has won over two dozen awards. Acclaimed for his authentic and insightful analysis of global and regional businesses and economic trends, he is respected for his astute understanding of the local business scene.

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