Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has officially launched a new start-up carrier, Riyadh Air, which is set to boost connectivity in and around the region complementing existing national airline Saudia and providing competition for other local carriers, including Qatar Airways, Etihad and Emirates. Former CEO of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad and aviation veteran, Tony Douglas, has been appointed CEO of the new carrier, while Public Investment Fund Governor, Yasir Al Rumayyan will Chair it.

Based out of Riyadh, the airline aims to leverage Saudi Arabia’s strategic location between the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. It plans to serve over 100 destinations by 2030 and is expected to add $20 billion to non-oil GDP growth and create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.

While the airline’s fleet is yet to be confirmed, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal the start up’s backer, PIF, is discussing a large order with Boeing.

A Saudi Press Agency statement read: “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.”


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