The kingdom’s location between Asia, Africa, and Europe will enable the airline to serve over 100 destinations worldwide by 2030, according to the state news agency SPA.
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has officially announced the creation of a new national airline called Riyadh Air, with industry veteran Tony Douglas as its chief executive. The kingdom’s location between Asia, Africa, and Europe will enable the airline to serve over 100 destinations worldwide by 2030, according to the state news agency SPA.
The new airline is expected to contribute significantly to Saudi Arabia’s non-oil GDP growth, adding $20 billion, and creating more than 200,000 jobs, both directly and indirectly. This move is in line with the kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil. 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.
The announcement marks the country’s entry into the highly competitive aviation industry, where it will face established players such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Turkish Airlines, among others. As the travel industry slowly recovers from the pandemic, Riyadh Air’s launch may lead to a more challenging battle for passengers.
In October last year, industry sources revealed that Saudi Arabia was in advanced talks to order nearly 40 A350 jets from Airbus, with Boeing also vying for a share of the kingdom’s transportation expansion. Saudia, the state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines, had disclosed that it was in negotiations with Boeing and Airbus for orders, both for itself and a new carrier it was planning.