Saudi Arabia is finalising the launch its multi-billion-dollar new international airline, which sources say is likely to be branded “RIA”, according to a report published in Arabian Business.
The Kingdom has been working on the launch for the past 12 months, with the new venture backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Sources close to the PIF told Arabian Business that “RIA” is being tipped as the name for the new carrier. Once launched, it will become Saudi’s second national carrier, based out of Riyadh. The current SAUDIA operates from Jeddah.
Part of the blueprint for the country’s Vision 2030 is a USD 100 billion investment in the aviation sector over the next eight years, the bulk of which will go towards establishing a new national carrier serving global routes.
“We are talking about a brand-new airline that aims to do what Emirates did in a quarter of the timescale. It’s unprecedented in the history of aviation. It’s also why they have yet to appoint a CEO – whoever takes this job will have to deliver the most ambitious targets you can imagine,” the source said.
It is understood that “RIA” has been submitted to the PIF as a preferred option, though the final decision is likely to be made by Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia is targeting 30 million international transit passengers by 2030, compared to under four million currently.
Sources suggest this will mean the new carrier will eventually need to operate over 150 routes globally, across Europe, North America, South America, Africa and Asia, which necessitates USD 30 billion investment. Emirates currently flies to 158 destinations in 85 countries.
“Right now, about 60% of all air traffic into Saudi comes from the Middle East. Asia-Pacific is around 20%, Africa just 10% – this is where the huge potential is,” the source added.
In May 2021, Saudi Arabia announced an aviation strategy targeting 250 direct destinations, tripling traffic and the creation of a new carrier.
The introduction of a new airline, which will operate alongside the national carrier Saudia formerly Saudi Arabian Airlines — will play a major role in the government’s plan to diversify its economy, boost tourism and reduce reliance on oil.
(With Inputs from Arabian Business)