Saudi Arabia has officially launched its long-planned new national airline – Riyadh Air – which forms part of the Kingdom’s economic growth plan as it moves away from oil production.
The airline will be headed up by industry veteran and former Emirates CEO Tony Douglas.
More than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created by the new airline – according to Saudi’s rulers – and the carrier should add around $20bn to the Kingdom’s non-oil GDP.
Saudi Arabia’s intention is for Riyadh Air to be the dominant carrier in the Middle East, eclipsing the likes of Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways in annual revenue terms.
Riyadh Air will be State-controlled and owned by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which has over $600bn in assets.
The aim is to have Riyadh Air flying to more than 100 destinations within the next 7 years.
It is unclear what the new airline will mean for the Kingdom’s existing flag carrier, the State-owned Saudia (formerly Saudi Arabian Airlines).