Saudia to operate flying taxis to ferry pilgrims between Jeddah and Makkah


Saudi Arabian Airlines unveiled plans to operate flying taxis to ferry Hajj pilgrims between King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and hotels in Makkah.

Saudia intends to buy around 100 aircraft to operate the service.

The Saudi national carrier is making preparations to use air taxis as a new mode of transportation during the Hajj season, according to Abdullah Al-Shahrani, director of corporate communications and spokesman of the Saudia Group.

He said that the Saudia Group has contracted the purchase of 100 Lilium jets, German electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, to shuttle between the Jeddah airport and airstrips in Makkah hotels near the Grand Mosque and other holy places.

“The electric plane Lilium is one of the first aircraft that operates entirely on electric power.

“After completing the necessary arrangements, these planes will fly with the guests of God during Hajj and Umrah seasons from King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah to the airstrips in hotels near the Grand Mosque in Makkah,” he told Al-Arabiya.

Al-Shahrani noted that flying taxi can transport four to six passengers. “The Lilium aircraft is characterized by a low rate of carbon emissions and is an environmentally friendly aircraft, which makes it one of the possibilities for sustaining air travel and shortening the time of flights, as it covers a maximum distance of 250 km.

“Through purchasing nearly 100 aircraft, Saudi Airlines intends to launch an advanced service to connect a number of travel destinations via this advanced electric aircraft, and will support it with air routes between the main airports from where Saudia operates,” he said while pointing out that this is a special service for its guests.

He said that the aircraft also features a unique cabin that offers several options for seat arrangement, and is characterized by spacious spaces that meet the needs of elite guests looking for the finest travel experiences.

According to Al-Shahrani, the Saudi Airlines will work to support Lilium by providing all the necessary regulatory approvals to operate this type of aircraft in the Saudi market.

“This is an important step in the framework of efforts to improve the air transport sector in the Kingdom, as this initiative will contribute significantly to stimulating the sustainability of the tourism sector in the Kingdom, through emissions-free aviation,” he added.

It is noteworthy that air taxi is a small commercial aircraft that makes short flights on demand.

Courtesy: Saudi Gazette