Saudi Arabia Officially Announces Riyadh Air

Saudi Arabia on Sunday announced its second national airline called, Riyadh Air which will be 100% owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund.

The airline intends to fly to more than 100 destinations by 2030 from its base in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia already has Saudia, a flag carrier based in Jeddah that flies to the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

You can access Riyadh Air here.

Press Release:

HRH Crown Prince Announces “Riyadh Air” – New National Carrier to Further Expand Saudi Aviation Ecosystem Locally and Globally

  • Riyadh will be the company’s operational hub, and will connect the Saudi capital to over 100 destinations globally
  • The new carrier will acquire modern aircraft equipped with the latest technology, and will adopt world class sustainability and safety practices
  • Riyadh Air will usher in a new era for the travel and aviation industry globally and will provide tourists from around the world the opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia’s cultural and natural attractions
  • The establishment of the airline is aligned with PIF’s mandate to further enable the aviation ecosystem in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH, 12 March 2023 – His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Prime Minister and Chairman of the Public Investment Fund (“PIF”), announced today the establishment of “Riyadh Air,” a PIF wholly owned company. The new national carrier will leverage Saudi Arabia’s strategic geographic location between the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, enabling Riyadh to become a gateway to the world and a global destination for transportation, trade, and tourism.

Riyadh Air will be chaired by His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of PIF, while Tony Douglas, who brings more than 40 years of experience in the aviation, transportation and logistics industries, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer. The airline’s senior management will include Saudi and international expertise.

Operating from Riyadh as its hub, the airline will usher in a new era for the travel and aviation industry globally. Riyadh Air will be a world-class airline, adopting the global best sustainability and safety standards across its advanced fleet of aircraft equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology. The airline is expected to add USD20 billion to non-oil GDP growth, and create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.

As a wholly owned PIF subsidiary, the new national airline is set to benefit from PIF’s investment expertise and financial capabilities while expanding on the company’s operations to become a leading national carrier. The new national airline represents PIF’s latest investment in the sector, along with the recently announced King Salman International Airport masterplan.

Riyadh Air aims to enhance customers’ journey while connecting them to over 100 destinations around the world by 2030; through offering an exceptional experience with an authentic, warm Saudi hospitality at its heart.

The airline will provide tourists from around the world the opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia’s cultural and natural attractions. Riyadh Air will also serve as a catalyst for the Saudi National Transport and Logistics Strategy and the National Tourism Strategy by increasing air transport options, raising cargo capacity and, in turn, growing international passenger traffic.

The establishment of Riyadh Air is part of PIF’s strategy to unlock the capabilities of promising sectors that can help drive the diversification of the local economy. It will enable a more financially resilient aviation ecosystem in Saudi Arabia, supporting the industry’s global competitiveness in line with Vision 2030.


Saudi Arabia aggressively plans to become a tourism destination with its new futuristic city Neom. However, the country didn’t welcome tourists until 2019 and still requires electronic visas for most arrivals outside of the Gulf.

But does the world need another Gulf-based airline with worldwide ambitions? We already have Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways, and smaller regional airlines, such as Oman Air and Gulf Air.

The airline’s launch definitely puts pressure on the airfares of non-stop flights, and it has a very aggressive plan to expand to 100 destinations within seven years.

The current flag carrier is part of the SkyTeam alliance, and Qatar Airways is part of Oneworld. So perhaps there is an opening for the Star Alliance that doesn’t have an alliance member in the Middle East.

The real question that everyone is eager to know is whether Riyadh Air will be serving adult beverages on its international flights, unlike Saudia, which is an entirely “dry” airline. Let’s see.

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