Saudi Arabia to launch a new airline RIA soon, eyeing several aircraft


Saudi Arabia is getting a new USD30 billion national carrier – said to be named RIA (Saudi Arabia) – is set to launch during the final quarter of the year on regional routes using B737 MAX and A320 Family aircraft, according to unnamed sources cited by ArabianBusiness.

As reported, the venture is backed by the sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF), which launched its own lessor, AviLease, in July 2022. RIA forms part of the Kingdom’s USD100 billion investment in aviation flowing from its “Vision 2023” strategy to diversify its economy and become less reliant on oil.

Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer Tony Douglas has been tipped as the top choice to head RIA, according to well-placed sources.

Etihad Airways Chief Executive Officer Tony Douglas has been tipped as the top choice to head RIA

Saudi Arabia reportedly has earmarked USD30 billion for RIA, which will be based out of Riyadh to attract global transfer traffic and tourism, competing with major carriers in the United Arab Emirates, such as Emirates, as well as Qatar Airways.

The most-awaited new airline in the region launched by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund might be named “RIA”, according to a new report.

The new multi-billion-dollar international airline will become Saudi Arabia’s second national carrier and will be based in Riyadh. Arabian Business quoted well-informed sources that “RIA” is being tipped as the name for the new Saudi carrier.

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Saudi Arabia to launch a new airline RIA by 2024

“The brand-new airline aims to do what Emirates did in a quarter of the timescale. It’s unprecedented in the history of aviation. The airline has yet to appoint a CEO – whoever takes the job will have to deliver the most ambitious targets you can imagine.”

The report said.

The Kingdom is targeting 30 million international transit passengers by 2030, compared to under four million currently. The report suggests 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 a USD 30 billion investment.

“Currently, about 60% of all air traffic into Saudi Arabia comes from the Middle East. Asia-Pacific is around 20%, Africa is just 10% – this is where the huge potential is.”

Sources said.

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 The Saudi Gazette.