Fondly referred to as ‘the UK’s gateway to the North’ Manchester Airport is set to welcome to return of Saudia for the first time in 21 months as the Middle Eastern airline relaunches its direct service to Jeddah.

The first flight is scheduled to depart on 15 December from the recently reopened Terminal Two, which has been expanded and modernised as part of a £1bn transformation programme. The service will run three times per week on the iconic Boeing-787 Dreamliner, with the frequency of flights subject to review dependent on demand.

The route – which is the only direct link to Saudi Arabia offered by a UK airport outside of London – originally began operations in 2014 and had been steadily growing ever since. In 2019 more than 97,000 passengers used the service. However, the route was temporarily suspended as a result of travel restrictions introduced in response to COVID-19.

“The return of Saudia to Manchester Airport is wonderful news and demonstrates the renewed confidence amongst passengers and airlines as we begin to emerge from the pandemic,” said Manchester Airport’s Managing Director, Karen Smart. “This is a route that is hugely important to communities across the North, given it is the only direct service to Saudi Arabia outside of London,” she continued.

Noting that she also hoped the route would become a permanent fixture in 2022, she explained that the service “is also has substantial economic benefits to our region, given the ever-growing trade and investment partnership between the UK and Saudi Arabia.”

Located on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, Jeddah is one of the country’s most popular destinations for inbound tourists. Just one hour away from Mecca by car, it also offers plenty of attractions of its own, including seafront resorts, museums, galleries, traditional cuisine and the 7th century walled city of Al-Balad, with buildings constructed from coral.

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