The new airport serving Saudi Arabia’s planned $500 billion mega-city Neom has been classified as a commercial hub by the aviation industry body International Air Transport Association.
The airport in Sharma, located within the north-western region of Tabuk, serves the futuristic city currently under development. Neom is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 to attract foreign investment, harness technological advancements, create jobs and wean the economy off its reliance on oil.
The airport will operate flights between Neom, located along the Red Sea coast, and the capital city of Riyadh.
The first landing at the airport was in January, according to the state-owned news agency Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
On January 10, the airport received two flights operated by state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines, or Saudia as it is known, SPA said.
The maiden flights carried 130 Neom employees on board two Airbus A320 narrowbodies.
Neom Bay Airport is the latest addition to the kingdom's 35 hubs where domestic travel is a lucrative business serving a population of more than 32 million people.
The futuristic business and industrial city of Neom, which extends into Egypt and Jordan, is backed by Saudi's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Neom’s contribution to the kingdom’s economy is projected to reach at least $100bn by 2030, according to its website.
The PIF is building other strategic cities such as the Red Sea tourism project spread across a lagoon of 50 islands and wellness resort Amaala to promote Saudi Arabia as a destination for tourists.