New Saudi national airline: Riyadh Air's first international flight set for early 2025, say reports

In October, KSA was in advanced negotiations to order almost 40 A350 jets from Airbus, with Boeing also lobbying for a slice of the kingdom's transportation expansion

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Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Published: Mon 13 Mar 2023, 12:47 PM

Last updated: Tue 14 Mar 2023, 6:38 PM

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman formally announced on Sunday the creation of a new national airline, Riyadh Air, with ex-Etihad CEO, Tony Douglas as its chief executive, as the kingdom moves to transform country's travel industry.

Riyadh Air will will serve more than 100 destinations around the world by 2030, making use of the kingdom's location between Asia, Africa and Europe, state news agency SPA said.


According to reports, the company is set to receive the first wide-body aircraft and launch its first international flight in early 2025. The national carrier is yet to announce its aircraft orders, but the new CEO noted that the order will be "substantial and will reflect Riyadh Air's ambitions."

In October, Saudi Arabia was in advanced negotiations to order almost 40 A350 jets from Airbus, with Boeing also lobbying for a slice of the kingdom's transportation expansion, industry sources had told Reuters.


The head of state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) told Reuters at the time that it was in talks with Boeing and Airbus on orders both for itself and a planned new carrier.

The new airline is expected to add $20 billion to Saudi Arabia's non-oil GDP growth and create more than 200,000 jobs both directly and indirectly, it said.

Riyadh Air is wholly owned by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which has more than $600 billion in assets and is the main driver of the kingdom's efforts to diversify its economy and wean itself off oil.

“The new national airline represents PIF’s latest investment in the sector, along with the recently announced King Salman International Airport masterplan,” the statement said.

“Riyadh Air will also act as a catalyst for the Saudi National Transport and Logistics Strategy and the National Tourism Strategy by boosting air transportation alternatives, increasing cargo capacity, and, as a result, increasing international passenger traffic,” it said.

The new airline is the latest in “a huge package of projects” that will “consolidate our country’s position as an international hub for aviation and a global logistics center,” Saudi Transport Minister Saleh Al-Jasser said on Twitter.



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