© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A logo of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is displayed in Geneva, Switzerland on March 13, 2020. REUTERS / Denis Balibouse
CAIRO (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday that the global airline industry body IATA had agreed to open a regional headquarters in Riyadh, but the industry’s main trade association denied it was a regional base in the last. evidence of sensitivities about the status of foreign companies. representation in the kingdom.
The General Civil Aviation Authority (GACA) announced late Wednesday that it had signed a “headquarters agreement” with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to open its “regional office in the kingdom.”
IATA, which represents some 290 airlines around the world, currently has its regional office in Amman, the capital of Jordan.
IATA said the body had agreed to establish an office in Saudi Arabia but not a regional headquarters.
“It will cater to the growing needs of the industry in (Saudi Arabia). We have a regional headquarters … in Amman and we will not move its functions to (Saudi Arabia),” an IATA spokesperson said by email.
GACA did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.
Saudi Arabia is pressuring companies to move their regional offices to the kingdom, warning that from 2024 it will not award state contracts to those with regional headquarters elsewhere.
The move is one of many recent economic and social reforms in an effort to diversify the economy away from its dependence on oil.
Saudi Arabia last week announced a transportation and logistics campaign aimed at making the kingdom the fifth-largest air traffic hub.
People familiar with the matter said a new planned airline would focus on international transit passenger traffic, going head-to-head with Gulf Giants Emirates and Qatar Airways and opening a new front in regional competition.
(This story adds the deleted words “IATA industry body”, paragraph 1)
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