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Riyadh Air’s CEO outlines details of the airline’s plan

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The Financial Times has revealed some information regarding Riyadh Air’s strategy, which has been the focus of rumors ever since the airline was unveiled in March 2023.

The FT quotes Tony Douglas, CEO of Riyadh Air, as saying that the new airline will concentrate on traffic to and from Saudi Arabia rather than directly compete with Qatar Airways and Emirates when it launches in 2025. These two neighboring rivals have grown their businesses by developing the airports in Doha (DOH) and Dubai (DXB), respectively, into significant international connecting hubs.

Tony Douglas previously served as CEO of Etihad, a company that, like the other two Gulf airlines mentioned above, has established a global hub at Abu Dhabi (AUH).

This emphasis on Saudi Arabia seems to be in line with the nation’s goals of becoming a significant international travel hub in and of itself.

Within the framework of its “2030 Vision” economic development strategy, the Middle Eastern kingdom intends to invest over US$ 100 billion in a number of tourism-related development projects.

By the end of the decade, Saudi Arabia hopes to welcome 100 million tourists annually. To that end, it has launched a number of initiatives, from the development of seaside resorts and futuristic new cities to the construction and expansion of airports.

In what he called a “super aggressive” growth strategy, Douglas also acknowledged that the airline is interested in constructing a narrow-body fleet that would allow it to reach up to 100 destinations by the year 2030.

In addition to the 39 Boeing 787s (plus 33 options) it previously ordered in 2023, Riyadh Air is reportedly looking for at least 150 narrow-body aircraft, with the Boeing 737 MAX reportedly being the leading candidate. These numbers, however, seem to represent only a small portion of a fleet that some sources claim could number as many as 300 to 400 aircraft.

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