Riyadh Air: Global to local and back

Saudi tourism, investment climate, central to new air carrier strategy 
Riyadh Air: Global to local and back
Riyadh Air

Saudi is the second most-searched destination online, as the nation embarks on large-scale investments in tourist attractions like AlUla, the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, NEOM, and others.

Tourists have the opportunity to visit sites in Saudi that were closed for decades. Jeddah has experienced a Formula 1 race and soccer is garnering global attention with the lure of international superstars coming to the capital.

These developments have necessitated the creation of a new national carrier called Riyadh Air. It will commence flights in 2025 and aims to serve 100 cities by 2030. The airline has already ordered 78 Boeing 787 planes.

Read: Riyadh Air partners with Atletico de Madrid

The airline expects to receive its first 11 jets from Boeing in 2025 and more as they come off the assembly line.

Riyadh air CEO Tony Douglas told media that the new airline plans to focus on niche markets for flights to and from Saudi, as the country attracts tourists and investors. As such, it does not need to compete with its Gulf neighbors’ large hubs.

The airline announced last March its first aircraft order for at least 39 Boeing 787 wide-body jets, with options for 33 more. Another fleet of narrow-body jets are awaiting talks with manufacturers.

Aerotime Hub reports show that Riyadh Air is considering at least 150 narrowbody aircraft leaning towards being Boeing 737 MAX planes.

Riyadh Air is owned by the $650 bn PIF which is leading an aggressive plan to meet demand for its citizens to have better connectivity around the globe, including religious pilgrims.

Data suggests that the existing order for the Dreamliners and the fleet of MAX aircraft in consideration will only account for a portion of the fleet, while the total fleet size can expand to as high as 300 to 400 aircraft.

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