Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) is contemplating selling bonds for the first time to fund its plans to acquire more aircraft. In an interview with Bloomberg, Director General Ibrahim Alomar shared that this is part of the state-owned carrier’s growth strategy.
Nonetheless, Alomar clarified that the airline already has sufficient funding to cover its operational requirements until the middle of next year.
Currently, Saudia is evaluating more funding options, including the said potential issuance of bonds, as it eyes to expand its fleet. The goal is to increase it from 177 to 317 by 2030 to cater to around 30 million religious pilgrims visiting Mecca.
The year 2030 is also the deadline for the country’s target to attract approximately 330 million visitors.
In March, media reports disclosed that both Saudia and Riyadh Air had placed orders for 39 widebody 787 aircraft from the U.S.-based aircraft manufacturer Boeing. This deal also includes options for 10 additional Dreamliners for Saudia and 33 for Riyadh Air.
These two airlines maintain independent operations. However, Alomar maintained that Saudia is open to working with Riyadh Air in key areas, including maintenance.
Saudia is not only expanding in terms of its fleet. The airline is also undergoing a digital transformation. This development is designed to reinforce Saudia’s commitment to realizing the goals of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. Vision 2030 aims to position the country as a global leader in fields other than oil production.
As part of this strategy, Saudia recently unveiled a revamped visual identity. Along with it, the airline announced its plans to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into its operations.
The AI will come in the form of a virtual assistant named “SAUDIA.” A pioneering initiative in the region, this conversational service will allow customers to access information and address travel-related needs more efficiently.
“We will soon be live with ‘Saudia,’ the first Aviation platform in EMEA to fully leverage the OpenAI-based ChatGPT 4 capabilities,” the airline’s official website reads.
According to Alomar, this digital transformation marks “a new era and a very exciting time for Saudia.”
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