Abdullateef Aliyu with agency report
Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammad bin Salman on Sunday unveiled a new Saudi Arabian national carrier, “Riyadh Air,” a wholly owned company by the Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The new national carrier, according to Arab News will leverage Saudi Arabia’s strategic geographic location between the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, enabling Riyadh to become a gateway to the world and a global destination for transportation, trade, and tourism.
Daily Trust reports that Riyadh Air would be the second national carrier after Saudia.
It is coming at a time Nigeria is struggling to unveil its national carrier, Nigeria Air, which has been a subject of legal tussle following the shareholding pattern adopted by the federal government which cedes controlling share to Ethiopian Airlines.
Unlike Nigeria Air, Riyadh Air would be wholly owned by Saudi Arabia established from its PIF, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia which is among the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world with total estimated assets of US$620 billion (£514 billion).
Reports say Riyadh Air will be chaired by Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Governor of PIF, while Tony Douglas, who brings more than 40 years of experience in the aviation, transportation and logistics industries, has been appointed Chief Executive Officer.
The airline’s senior management will include Saudi and international expertise.
Operating from Riyadh as its hub, the airline will usher in a new era for the travel and aviation industry globally while adopting the global best sustainability and safety standards across its advanced fleet of aircraft equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology.
The airline is expected to add $20 billion to non-oil GDP growth, and create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs, a statement said.
As a wholly owned PIF subsidiary, the new national airline is set to benefit from PIF’s investment expertise and financial capabilities while expanding on the company’s operations to become a leading national carrier.
The new national airline represents PIF’s latest investment in the sector, along with the recently announced King Salman International Airport masterplan.
Riyadh Air aims to enhance customers’ journey while connecting them to over 100 destinations around the world by 2030; through offering an exceptional experience with an authentic, warm Saudi hospitality at its heart.
Commenting on the launch of the new airline, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb wrote on Twitter that the new airline is a “major breakthrough” and will give a major boost to the Kingdom’s tourism sector.
He said the launch of the airline supports “our goal of receive 100 million tourists from all over the world by 2030.
It will enable a more financially resilient aviation ecosystem in Saudi Arabia, supporting the industry’s global competitiveness in line with Vision 2030.