The expected debut date for the new national carrier of Saudi Arabia, RIA, has been moved up from its planned launch date of 2024 to the end of 2022.
The inaugural flight of RIA, Saudi Arabia’s second flag carrier, has been projected for the end of 2022, despite being earlier scheduled for 2024.
Also read: Saudi Arabia’s new airline to be named ‘RIA’
The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), which has its own lessor AviLease, is investing roughly $30 billion to develop RIA as the engine for becoming Riyadh a major hub that competes with Dubai International, Abu Dhabi International, and Doha Hamad International in the United Arab Emirates. As part of its “Vision 2023” aim to diversify its economy away from oil, Saudi Arabia is investing USD 100 billion in aviation. The new flag carrier is a part of that investment.
The airline will need to base its fleet strategy on widebody aircraft to meet the demand for international and intercontinental travel in order to accomplish the audacious aim.
The news of the accelerated launch comes after a recent Reuters story that the airline intended to acquire up to 40 brand-new A350 aircraft, with maybe as many options through Saudia (SV, Jeddah), a sister carrier that also hoped to obtain aircraft for itself.
The Saudi Public Investment Fund would pay the estimated $12 billion price (PIF). With its Boeing 787 family of aircraft, which is currently a part of Saudia’s fleet, Boeing also sought to secure at least a portion of the expected overall order for 68 to 75 aircraft.
According to Arabian Business, the country will invest $30 billion in the new airline, which will fly more than 150 trips between 80 different countries.
Ibrahim Koshy, the chief executive of Saudia, told the news agency that it made sense for both airlines to work together in negotiations with the manufacturers because both airlines had the same shareholder, the sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF). He affirmed that, if finalised, the order would take care of both airlines’ fleet requirements.
The hub of the new Saudi airline, RIA, will be in Riyadh, the kingdom’s capital, as its preliminary name suggests. Saudi Arabian Airlines, on the other hand, will keep using its current hub, Jeddah King Abdul Aziz (JED). As a result, Saudi Arabia’s plan for its two national airlines is to develop two significant international hubs that cater to various travelling categories. While RIA would be geared more towards leisure travellers, Saudia will still concentrate on Hajj and Umrah flights.
Other big regional carriers including Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, and Emirates will compete with the PIF-backed airline.
The PIF’s aviation branch is receiving significant money in order to create an ecosystem of cargo and passenger airlines and airports. According to the source, the PIF is considering acquiring and leasing options for a fleet that might potentially include 200 aircraft.
One of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 objectives is a $100 billion investment in the aviation sector over the following eight years, the majority of which would go towards creating a new national airline operating on international routes.
The nation anticipates serving at least 30 million extra passengers per year, up from the current 4 million, when the new airline begins operations by the end of 2022.
(With inputs from Arabian Business)