Saudi Arabia is to open up a new national airline, to be known as Riyadh Air.
Based at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport, the airline hopes to grow to serve more than 100 destinations by 2030, and become the largest airline in the Middle East.
The airline will be led by Tony Douglas, a former CEO of Etihad Airways and chief executive of Abu Dhabi Airports Company, and Chief Executive of London Heathrow Airport.
Announced on March 12th by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Prime Minister and Chairman of the Public Investment Fund (“PIF”), Riyadh Air “will leverage Saudi Arabia’s strategic geographic location between the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, enabling Riyadh to become a gateway to the world and a global destination for transportation, trade, and tourism.”
The intention is to grow the airline and Riyadh Airport to become major players in the Middle East, competing with rivals like Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines, and their respective hubs.
The airline is also expected to add USD20 billion to the country’s non-oil GDP growth, create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs, and provide tourists from around the world the opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia’s cultural and natural attractions.
Which Aircraft Will Riyadh Air Use?
Initial announcements have indicated that the Riyadh Air fleet will consist of Airbus A320neo, Boeing 737 Max and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
What About Saudia
Nothing has been mentioned about the existing state-owned Saudia (formerly Saudi Arabian Airlines). However, it is thought that both airlines will continue to co-exist, at least in the short term.