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Saudi Arabia Launches New Airline: Riyadh Air

by Aoife O’Riordan

Mar 22, 2023

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eFlyer Lead

On March 12, Saudi Arabia officially unveiled Riyadh Air, a new airline hoping to pave the way for future aviation travel. Riyadh Air marks the second flag carrier out of Saudi Arabia, with its main hub slated to be King Khalid International Airport. With a plan to be the largest airline in the Middle East, Riyadh Air expects to serve 100 destinations across the Middle East, North America, South America, Asia and Europe.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman formally announced Riyadh Air, with a follow-up announcement the new airline already ordered 39 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The airline also has options to add another 33 in the near future.

“The new airline reflects the ambitious vision of Saudi Arabia to be at the core of shaping the future of global air travel and be a true disrupter in terms of guest experience,” said Tony Douglas, CEO, Riyadh Air. “Riyadh Air’s commitment to its guests will see the integration of digital innovation and authentic Saudi hospitality to deliver a seamless travel experience. By positioning the airline as both a global connector and a vehicle to drive tourist and business travel to Saudi Arabia, our new 787-9 airplanes will serve as a foundation for our worldwide operations, as we build the wider network and connect our guests to Saudi Arabia and many destinations around the world.”

In total, national carriers announced plans to purchase up to 121 787 Dreamliners, making it the fifth-largest commercial order by value in Boeing’s history. This purchase further supports Saudi Arabia’s goal of serving 330 million passengers and drawing 100 million visits by 2030.

These aircraft are constructed in the United States, meaning the airline’s first flights will operate in early 2025. The new airline will operate from the country’s capital city of the same name.

Saudi Arabia’s creation of a new airline comprises part of a greater initiative to drive more tourism to the country and transform Saudi Arabia into a global hub for the aviation industry. The airline is expected to create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs. Prioritizing digital technology and sustainability, Riyadh Air serves as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 initiative. As part of this initiative, Riyadh is currently undergoing a radical transformation to enhance the city’s already vibrant and lively atmosphere, hoping to raise the tourism sector’s contribution to the GDP by more than 10 percent.

Riyadh Air will equip its airlines with state-of-the-art features; elegant cabin interiors and experiences; and next-generation, digital in-flight entertainment systems and connectivity solutions. The airline will also operate in line with Saudi Arabia’s goal toward net-zero emissions.

Do you plan to fly Riyadh Air when it launches in 2025? What are you most excited about with this launch? What are your expectations? Tell us your thoughts. Email us at [email protected]. Please include your full name and location.

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