Riyadh Air is Saudi Arabia’s new airline

Backed by a public investment fund, the carrier aims to become a rival of Emirates Airline

The Middle East will soon have a new global airline. The region, halfway between all continents and with billions of dollars from oil exploration, has been a major hub for international flights, with Emirates Airline as its main protagonist.Soon, however, carriers in the region will gain a new competitor, Riyadh Air, from Saudi Arabia.

The creation of the airline had already been confirmed by the country’s government, however, on Sunday, its name was revealed, in addition to the executive who will command it.

Created by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh Air will have Tony Douglas as CEO, who until October last year was the chief executive of Etihad Airways, from Abu Dhabi.

There are still no confirmed details about the routes and the fleet of aircraft, but it is speculated that the new company and Boeing are close to announcing a massive 787 Dreamliner jet deal. There are also ongoing negotiations with Airbus for A350 widebodies.

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (Gordon Werner/CC)

“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,” the government said in statement.

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The Vision 2030 plan calls for Riyadh Air to serve 100 global destinations by the end of the decade. The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, who is chairman of the new airline, intends to expand tourism in the country, in addition to capturing part of the international air traffic that uses neighboring hubs in Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi.

The new airline, as its name indicates, will be based in the country’s capital, Riyadh. It is not clear, however, what will be the role of Saudia Airlines, the country’s traditional flag carrier and which is also controlled by the Saudi government.

Airbus A350


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