Saudi Crown Prince launches new national carrier Riyadh Air


In a landmark move on Sunday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a new national airline ‘Riyadh Air’, completely owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), latest reports from the Saudi Press Agency said.

A statement issued by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund announced the appointment of Tony Douglas – former CEO of Etihad Airways – as the airline’s CEO and PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan as its first chairperson.

Operating from the Saudi capital as its hub, Riyadh Air aims to turn the city into a global destination for transportation, trade, and tourism, and is expected to add $20 billion to the country’s non-oil GDP growth and create over 200,000 jobs.

The new airline, which plans to enable Riyadh to become a gateway to the world, is the latest in “a huge package of projects” that will “consolidate our country’s position as an international hub for aviation and a global logistics center,” Saudi Transport Minister Saleh Al-Jasser tweeted.

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The launch is in line with the PIF’s plan to help the Kingdom with its ambitions related to economic diversification as well as to utilise the capabilities of promising industries. The sovereign fund is one of the key drivers of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to wean itself off fossil fuels and has over $600 billion in assets.

Officials made huge announcements last November regarding plans for a new airport in the capital – spanning 57 sq km – that is set to accommodate 120 million travellers per year by the end of this decade and a whopping 185 million travellers by 2050. The existing airport in Riyadh can accommodate around 35 million travellers per year.

Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb took to Twitter to comment on the launch of the new airline, calling it a “major breakthrough” that will offer a substantial boost to the Kingdom’s tourism industry. The launch of Riyadh Air backs “our goal to receive 100 million tourists from all over the world by 2030.”



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