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Riyadh Air: A New Flag Carrier for Saudia Arabia Is Born

Daniel Ross's image
Daniel Ross
Daniel Ross's image

Daniel Ross

Senior Content Contributor

Countries Visited: 56U.S. States Visited: 17

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points...

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The rumors have finally been confirmed. Saudi Arabia will be launching an all-new flag carrier: Riyadh Air.

On Sunday, March 12, 2023, the Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Abdulaziz announced that the Riyadh-based carrier has big plans to fly to more than 100 global destinations by 2030.

While we have a name, we don’t know exactly when this airline might take flight for the first time.

Let’s take a look at what details have been confirmed about Saudi Arabia’s newest carrier.

Riyadh Air To Replace Saudia

It’s out with the old and in with the new for Saudi Arabian aviation.

Riyadh Air’s base will be in Riyadh at the capital city’s King Khalid International Airport (RUH), where Saudia — the country’s current flag carrier — has its second largest presence after Jeddah (JED).

Much like Emirates, Etihad, Qatar, and even Oman Air, Riyadh Air’s aim is to use its geographic location to act as a transit hub for passengers traveling large distances across the world, from Africa to Asia to Europe.

These are lofty ambitions, given the incumbent airlines’ already well-established route networks and frequent flyer base.

Riyadhs promity to the UAE and Qatar
Emirates through Dubai, Etihad through Abu Dhabi, Qatar through Doha, and now Riyadh Air through Riyadh. Will there be enough demand? Image Credit: Flight Connections

It’s also hoped that Saudi Arabia’s new airline will help to entice a new wave of tourism through premium level of service and state-of-the-art aircraft.

Exact details of which routes will be flown and by which aircraft are yet to be revealed.

Bottom Line: Saudi Arabia is soon to launch a brand-new flag carrier. It’s likely that it will offer nonstop services to some U.S. cities, but until then, these are the routes to and from the U.S. that current flag carrier Saudia currently offers.

Tony Douglas in Charge of Riyadh Air’s Success

Ex-Etihad CEO Tony Douglas has been appointed CEO and will take the helm of the new airline.

Who better to navigate the intricacies of starting up a Middle Eastern carrier with big ambitions than an expert in the field like Douglas. He’s even been credited to have ‘saved’ Etihad from going under.

While Riyadh Air will be solely owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), of which His Royal Highness Crown Prince is the Prime Minister and Chairman, the carrier will be chaired by His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the Governor of PIF.

Final Thoughts

A new era of air travel and tourism is being etched on the horizon for Saudi Arabia.

It could be some time before we see Riyadh Air jet take to the skies, but until then, we’ll keep you posted on any updates.

Daniel Ross's image

About Daniel Ross

Daniel has loved aviation and travel his entire life. He earned a Master of Science in Air Transport Management and has written about travel and aviation in publications like Simple Flying, The Points Guy, and more.


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