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Saudi Arabia Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud arrives to attend the APEC Leader's Informal Dialogue with Guests during the APEC 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand, 18 November 2022. Pool via REUTERS

Saudi Arabia launches new national airline

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman formally announced on Sunday the creation of a new national airline, Riyadh Air, with industry veteran Tony Douglas as its chief executive, as the kingdom moves to compete with regional transport and travel hubs.

Riyadh Air will will serve more than 100 destinations around the world by 2030, making use of the kingdom’s location between Asia, Africa and Europe, state news agency SPA said.

The announcement may lead to a tougher battle for passengers, going head-to-head with regional giants Emirates, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines as the travel industry recovers from the pandemic.

Riyadh Air is wholly owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which has more than $600 billion in assets and is the main driver of the kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy and wean itself off oil.

In October, Saudi Arabia was in advanced negotiations to order almost 40 A350 jets from Airbus, with Boeing Co also lobbying for a slice of the kingdom’s transportation expansion, industry sources had told Reuters.

The head of state-owned Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) told Reuters at the time that it was in talks with Boeing and Airbus on orders both for itself and a planned new carrier.

Source: Reuters