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Delta Forms Partnership With Riyadh Air, a New Saudi Arabian Carrier

Ryan Smith's image
Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith's image

Ryan Smith

Senior Editor & Content Contributor

135 Published Articles 41 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 197U.S. States Visited: 50

Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publicat...
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Nick Ellis

Editor & Content Contributor

165 Published Articles 807 Edited Articles

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Nick’s passion for points began as a hobby and became a career. He worked for over 5 years at The Points Guy and has contributed to Business Insider and CNN. He has 14 credit cards and continues to le...

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Some partnerships make sense — peanut butter and jelly, peas and carrots, milk and cookies — the list goes on. Some partnerships, on the other hand, take us by surprise, like the new agreement between Delta Air Lines and Riyadh Air.

Riyadh Air hasn’t started flying yet; it plans to do that in 2025. When that comes, the 2 airlines will fly under an exclusive partnership — though that’s subject to regular approvals.

Here’s what travelers can expect from this new partnership.

Delta and Riyadh Air Partnership Details

Delta Air Lines (DL) and Riyadh Air (RX) signed a Strategic Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding today, July 9, 2024, at Delta’s headquarters in Atlanta. Under this new agreement, Delta will be Riyadh Air’s exclusive partner in North America. In turn, Riyadh Air will be Delta’s exclusive partner in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia.

That last bit is interesting, as Saudia is a fellow SkyTeam member with Delta and has a hub at Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport (RUH). However, it plans to pull out of that hub by 2030, giving its slots there to, you guessed it, Riyadh Air.

So, how did these 2 airlines become partners? It very well may come down to the customer experience each carrier offers.

“This partnership with Riyadh Air will further Delta’s mission of connecting the world and open an array of new choices, benefits, and destinations for our customers traveling to and from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “Most importantly, Riyadh Air shares Delta’s commitment to providing an elevated customer experience, which is why we’re looking forward to building and expanding this partnership in the months and years ahead.”

Riyadh Air Delta planes in sky
Delta’s newest partner is Riyadh Air. Image Credit: Riyadh Air

The new agreement is subject to regulatory approval, but it should include interline and codeshare agreements, with the eventual goal including shared maintenance facilities, ground handling, and — for the customer — a loyalty partnership. This is often a hint that the airlines want you to be able to earn and redeem miles on either airline within the partnership. Time will tell what that looks like.

Delta’s vision for this partnership includes nonstop flights on its own metal from the U.S. to Riyadh. Travelers would be able to continue beyond that city to other destinations served by Riyadh Air — whether in Saudi Arabia or beyond — all on a single itinerary without needing a second check-in or claiming luggage along the way.

Bottom Line:

Details about elite benefits and earning/redeeming miles still need to be worked out, but the next step in the process is government regulatory approval.

Final Thoughts

It’s interesting that 2025 will mark Delta’s 100th anniversary, and it’s celebrating that milestone through a partnership with a brand-new airline to help travelers move more easily between the Middle East and North America.

Once earning and redemption details are known, count on us to provide updates on this and shared loyalty benefits under the new Delta and Riyadh Air partnership.

Ryan Smith's image

About Ryan Smith

Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.

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