RIA: bad news for Emirates and Qatar Airways

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We had already mentioned the birth of a new airline in Saudi Arabia in this article in 2022. The government has just officially announced the launch of Riyadh International Airlines.

Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz

100 destinations by 2030

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz announced on Sunday (March 12) the official establishment of Saudi Arabia’s second national airline. It will be called Riyadh Air. The first name project had been RIA or Riyadh International Air.

By 2030, the new airline will serve more than 100 destinations around the world from Riyadh, providing guests with “an exceptional experience centered on genuine and warm Saudi Arabian hospitality”, he said. The aim is to overtake Emirates and Qatar Airways and revive tourism in the kingdom, which aims to reduce dependence on oil.

330 Million passengers by 2030

In 2030, Saudi Arabia wants to have 330 million passengers per year, three times more than today. In addition, the country would like to quadruple the freight volume to 4.5 million tons. It should then be directly connected to 250 destinations in the world, instead of only 99 as is currently the case. Riyadh Air will play a key role in this regard.

Saudia will focus on Jeddah, base of the two holy cities

The expected growth is so significant that it would be difficult for an airline to manage it alone. And that is why Saudi Arabia is founding a second national airline, Riyadh Air. While Saudia will focus on Jeddah as a base for tours of the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina as well as the Red Sea, its new sister will focus on the economic metropolis.

Yasir Al Rumayyan

RIA must find a boss and planes

Riyadh Air is still run by former Etihad boss Tony Douglas, although his departure has been announced in the meantime. However, the president of the airline has been appointed, it is Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of the Public Investment Fund. Riyadh Air should therefore already place a large order of more than 100 aircraft very soon. It should be noted that Yasir Al-Rumayyan is also on the board of Aramco.

The Saudi sovereign wealth fund, owner of Riyadh Air, has been negotiating for months with Airbus to order an A350. At the same time, he is also discussing short and medium-haul jets as well as long-haul jets with Boeing. He will probably consider both manufacturers in order to get enough planes fast enough.

For the airport, there is no problem of surface

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund said the airport would span 57 square kilometers to become the operational base for the new national airline. “The airport project is in line with Saudi Arabia’s vision to make Riyadh one of the top 10 urban economies in the world and to support Riyadh’s population growth to 15-20 million. here 2030,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

An additional competitor in the gulf

This is bad news for the Gulf airlines. They will have to put up with a new competitor. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways now transport large numbers of Saudis around the world through their hubs. Up to a quarter of travellers, depending on class, come from Saudi Arabia. It is obvious that if the new airline is placed at the best level of comfort of its competitors, the Saudis will travel with their national company.

Note that a former Air France …
Vincent Coste, holds the position of 1st
Chief Commercial Officer at Riyadh Air
see his profile on Linkedin.

Thank you William!

Catherine Mills Avatar