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Riyadh Air, the New National Airline of Saudi Arabia is born

, Riyadh Air, the New National Airline of Saudi Arabia is born, eTurboNews | eTN

Insiders say Riyadh Air plans to be the largest airline in the Middle East in revenue, beating Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad.

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Tourism experts in the Saudi Arabian Kingdom work quietly but love Mega projects, and they love to shine. Today is such a day of glamor, national pride, and a new turning point for aviation in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Region, the Middle East, and the world it connects to.

A new star is born: Riyadh Airways.

Mega Travel and Tourism developments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia need connectivity.

Saudi Arabia has been shining for the last three years with a new style of opening to the world and developments. 16 new mega projects had been announced.

This is truly a a transformation

HE Gloria Guevara, Top Advisor to HE Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saudia, the traditional national carrier for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has a new sister. Saudia’s headquarter is in the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah, the gateway to the holy city of Mekka. Religious traffic is the bread and butter for this carrier. Saudia has also been working hard to become a carrier for sports, tourism, and sustainability.

Riyadh Air is a new giant airline in progress. Saudi Arabia-headquartered Riyadh Air will be based in the capital city of Riyadh, the business gateway to the kingdom and gateway to the fast-growing tourism center of the country.

According to Ms. Guevara, Riyadh Air is not a competitor to Saudia but works complimentary within the world of the two national carriers in the kingdom.

A competitor to Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad, and Turkish Airlines is born

Saudi Arabian tourism is known for its 16 mega projects, and Riyadh Air may become another such project.

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Prime Minister and Chairman of the Public Investment Fund (“PIF”), announced today the establishment of “Riyadh Air,” a wholly owned PIF company.

The new national carrier 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. 

Riyadh Air will be chaired by His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Public Investment Fund.

At the same time, Tony Douglas, ex-CEO of Etihad Airways, brings over 40 years of experience in the aviation, transportation, and logistics industries and has been appointed Chief Executive Officer for Riyadh Air. The airline’s senior management will include Saudi and international expertise.

On October 19, 2022, Tony Douglas stepped down as CEO of Etihad Airways and took on a ‘consultancy role’ instead.

Instead, Douglas was headhunted away by Saudi Arabia to create this new, 5-star airline that should rival the Gulf carriers.

Who would qualify better for the job than Douglas? Tony Douglas – the man who turned around Etihad.

In January Aviation Business Me reported Douglas stepped down from his new job as CEO of Riyadh Air. This showed as incorrect, but rumors were spreading about this latest 100 billion Dollar investment by the oil rich kingdom into becoming a new leader for international aviation.

Operating from Riyadh as its hub, the airline will usher in a new global era for the travel and aviation industry.

Riyadh Air will be a world-class airline, adopting the best global sustainability and safety standards across its advanced fleet of aircraft equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology.

The airline is expected to add USD20 billion to non-oil GDP growth and create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.

As a wholly owned PIF subsidiary, the new national airline will benefit from PIF’s investment expertise and financial capabilities while expanding on the company’s operations to become a leading national carrier.

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

Riyadh Air aims to enhance customers’ journeys while connecting them to over 100 destinations around the world by 2030; by offering an exceptional experience with authentic, warm Saudi hospitality at its heart. 

The airline will allow tourists from around the world to visit Saudi Arabia’s cultural and natural attractions.

Riyadh Air will also catalyze the Saudi National Transport and Logistics Strategy and the National Tourism Strategy by increasing air transport options, raising cargo capacity, and, in turn, growing international passenger traffic.

Establishing Riyadh Air is part of PIF’s strategy to unlock the capabilities of promising sectors that can help drive the diversification of the local economy.

It will enable a more financially resilient aviation ecosystem in Saudi Arabia, supporting the industry’s global competitiveness in line with Vision 2030. 

About the author


Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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