London is poised to gain an air link to a $500 billion mega-city being developed on the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia.
Flag-carrier Saudia is to start flying from Neom Bay Airport to Dubai in June, providing the first commercial air service from the destination.
The weekly service to Dubai is due to start at the end of next month followed by London “soon thereafter”.
Aircraft flying to the selected destinations will have a joint Neom-Saudia livery to showcase the brand to the world.
Neom, which means ‘new future’, is located in north-west Saudi Arabia at the crossroads of three continents, with 40% of the world claimed to be accessible within a four-hour flight.
The closest commercial airport to the megacity was previously at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.
Charter flights have been serving Neom Bay airport since 2019, with flight times of around two hours from the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh.
Millions of residents are expected to relocate to Neom by 2030, with tourism projects due to open from 2024.
Saudia director general Ibrahim Al-Omar said: “This partnership is in line with Saudia’s ambition to support Saudi Vision 2030 by increasing passenger traffic domestically and regionally, as well as expanding our connections to global cities.
“As Neom continues to progress, demand for travel to there is only increasing, making it a natural addition to our list of destinations.”
Neom chief executive Nadhmi Al-Nasr added: “Neom Bay airport is a key enabler of Neom’s development, facilitating efficient access for residents and business partners, and drastically improving the ease with which Neom can connect with people from all over the world.
“This is an exciting step in our journey to provide the best possible air connectivity to Neom and a signal of our rapid growth.”