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Saudi passengers arrive to King Khaled International airport in the capital Riyadh. Image Credit: AP file

Cairo: Around 12.5 million passengers travelled through Saudi Arabia’s airports in Ramadan and the ensuing Eid Al Fitr holiday, marking an increase of over 18 per cent in terms of travellers and flights compared to the corresponding period last year, the kingdom’s civil aviation authorities have said.

The lunar month of Ramadan, which began this year on March 11, usually marks the peak of Umrah or minor pilgrimage at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest place in the Saudi city of Mecca.

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The cited number of passengers, during this year’s Ramadan until the 9th of the following month of Shawwal, were transported aboard more than 86,000 scheduled domestic and international as well as charter flights operated by 100 carriers to and from the Saudi airports, the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) said.

The King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah, a hub for Umrah pilgrims, got the lion’s share of passenger traffic during that period with around 5.3 million travellers, followed by the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh with 3.2 million and the Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Medina with 1.04 million.

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Saudi Arabia experienced record air traffic last year with an increase of 16% in the total number of flights from 701,290 to 814,995 and an increase in the number of passengers from 88 million to 112 million, GACA recently revealed.

Saudi Arabia aims to increase the number of air travellers to reach 330 million annually by 2030, a senior aviation official said in January. General Manager of GACA Excellence and Development Department Hussain Al Assaf said the national aviation strategy is designed to triple the current number of air passengers to reach 330 million per year by 2030.

To this end, the kingdom focuses on a set of principal fields, including expanding infrastructures by building new airports, expanding the existing ones, boosting their operation efficiency and improving travellers’ experiences.

Saudi Arabia has recently unveiled a “passenger without a bag” service at all its airports as the kingdom seeks to nurture its tourism industry and attract more holidaymakers. The service allows the passengers to finalise all travel procedures from their residency and ship the luggage ahead of the flight, whether domestic or international.