Airbus and Boeing compete for deal for up to 80 planes with new Saudi Arabian airline

RIA Airlines aims to compete with Emirates, Qatar and Etihad with a new global hub in Riyadh

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is close to announcing a huge order of aircraft, of up to 80 jets that will be operated by a new carrier to be established in Riyadh, according to news agencies Bloomberg and Reuters.

The new airline, which is quoted to be called RIA Airlines, must have a fleet of widebodies, but also narrowbodies planes. Reuters said Airbus was close to closing a deal for 40 A350s plus 40 call options while Bloomberg revealed on Sunday that PIF is still negotiating with Boeing as well.

Thanks to the Vision 2030 plan, the city of Riyadh aims to establish a global hub that will rival Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi in the Gulf region. The goal is to diversify the economy, which is currently dependent on oil.

Some sources previously reported that the Saudi fund was close to ordering the Boeing 787, however, the recent friction between the US and Saudi Arabian governments, due to the position regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, could theoretically hinder an agreement.

RIA must coexist with Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), the flag carrier of the Middle East country, despite the similar market profile.

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