Saudi unveils new airline to compete with Gulf rivals
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced Sunday the creation of a new national airline, part of a plan to turn Riyadh into a global aviation hub rivaling regional leaders like Dubai and Doha.
Riyadh Air “aims to launch flights to more than 100 destinations around the world by 2030,” the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The Gulf kingdom is pursuing ambitious aviation goals as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s wide-ranging “Vision 2030” reform agenda, including more than tripling annual traffic to 330 million passengers by the end of the decade.
It also wants to move up to five million tons of cargo each year.
Last November officials announced plans for a new airport in the capital Riyadh – spanning 57 square kilometers (22 square miles) – that is set to accommodate 120 million travelers per year by 2030 and 185 million travelers by 2050.
The capacity of the existing Riyadh airport is around 35 million travelers.
Sunday’s announcement said Riyadh Air would operate a “fleet of advanced aircraft” but did not specify how big the fleet would be or from where it would be sourced.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund that will own the airline, was “close to a deal” with Boeing for an aircraft order “valued at $35 billion”.