AviationNew airline Riyadh Air signals the kingdom’s intention to better connect Asia, Africa and Europe.

Saudi Arabia enters the fray for global gateway status

Boeing signs contracts with Riyadh Air CEO Tony Douglas.
Boeing signs contracts with Riyadh Air CEO Tony Douglas. Photo Credit: Riyadh Air

Fresh details have emerged about the new Saudi Arabian airline, Riyadh Air, which is expected to launch international and regional operations within two years.

In a multi-billion dollar deal, the airline has ordered up to 72 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, 39 of them confirmed orders with options for a further 33 of the same aircraft type.

The under-construction King Salman International Airport and Riyadh Air are among the latest investments of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in support of Saudi Vision 2030, whose primary goal is to promote the country’s non-oil business sectors, such as tourism, banking and IT.

The Boeing aircraft order is being viewed as confirmation that Saudi Arabia intends to become a major player in global tourism, trade and transportation, challenging Dubai, Qatar and Abu Dhabi as “a gateway to the world”, according to Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammad bin Salman.

Tony Douglas, CEO of Riyadh Air, said the new airline will link capital city Riyadh with 100 international destinations and is committed to providing customers with full, five-star service, digital innovation and authentic Saudi hospitality.

Douglas, who served as CEO of Etihad Aviation Group from January 2018 to October 2022, added, “The new airline reflects the ambitious vision of Saudi Arabia to be at the core of shaping the future of global air travel and be a true disrupter in terms of customer experience.”

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