Korean Air restarts flights to Saudi Arabia

27 Sep 2012

Korean Air is restarting its three-times-weekly service to Saudi Arabia, suspended for 14 years, in response to a new boom in Korean companies winning construction contracts in the Middle Eastern country.

From November 9, flight KE961 will leave Seoul Incheon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 2155 and will arrive in Riyadh at 0310 the next day. The flight will continue on to Jeddah, leaving at 0420 and landing at 0615. 

The return leg KE962 departs from Jeddah at 1100 on the same days, to land in Riyadh at 1235. It then departs from Riyadh at 0155 to arrive into Seoul Incheon at 1355 the next day. 

The airline said that Saudi Arabia currently has a high demand for construction of facilities to support its oil industry, alongside other infrastructure, and Korean companies have won numerous contracts in the country. 

According to the Korea Industry and Technology Times, Korea “practically dominates” construction work in Saudi Arabia. It reports that in 2011 Korea secured US$16.6 billion worth of project orders in the country, or 28 per cent of the total overseas orders. 

In June this year, for example, the South Korean firm GS Engineering & Construction won a deal to expand a petrochemical complex for the oil company Saudi Aramco and Japan’s Sumitomo Chemical.

Korean construction business in Saudi Arabia previously boomed in the 1970s and 1980s.

Korean Air said the service would also allow business travellers from other countries, such as Japan and China, to use Seoul as a hub to travel onwards to Saudi Arabia. 

Saudia, the country’s flag carrier, recently stepped up flights to China as business ties between the two countries are growing (see story here).

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Nicholas Olczak

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