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Sources: Saudia Is Set To Relocate From Riyadh By 2030


According to Airways magazine, Saudia is set to relocate from Riyadh by 2030, leaving the capital of Saudi Arabia exclusively under the management of Riyadh Air. The airline plans to shift its focus to developing the “Jeddah Hub” project, a key component of its “New Era” initiative.

Peter Bellew, the Chief Operating Officer of Riyadh Air, emphasized Saudia’s overwhelming business in Jeddah, stating that the airline will gradually transition back to Jeddah over time. Highlighting the importance of Riyadh as the capital and its brand identity, he expressed the intention to foster growth in Riyadh, promoting the capital and its attractions globally. Abdullah Alshahrani, the General Manager of Media Affairs of Saudia, clarified the division of responsibilities, stating that Riyadh Air will handle businesses, compromises, and all activities in Riyadh. At the same time, Saudia will focus on Hajj and Umrah, tourism, and west coast projects. The proposed move marks a significant shift for Saudia after more than 70 years of operations in Riyadh.

What we know about Riyadh Air’s plans in the Kingdom’s capital.

Riyadh Air which operates under the designation code “RX”, At the Dubai Airshow 2023, Peter Bellew, the Chief Operating Officer of Riyadh Air, revealed the plans for RX’s fleet and network strategy. He also discussed the future transformation of the Saudi aviation market, stating, “Saudia has a lot of business in Jeddah, and gradually, they will shift back there.”

Peter Bellew emphasized their collaboration with Saudia and highlighted, “We’re working closely with them, but it’s essential to remember that our focus is on Riyadh, the capital, and our brand reflects that. We aim to showcase the capital and its attractions globally.”
He also added that the airline had initiated the process for obtaining the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and had already hired the first 20 pilots. RX is confident about the official launch in 2025, as originally planned. The airline is planning to be the largest in the Middle East in terms of revenue. It will operate domestic and international scheduled flights to over 100 different destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, North America, and Oceania. The current announced fleet will consist of Boeing 787 aircraft.

According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Riyadh Air will be a company owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of PIF, serving as its chairman. Tony Douglas has been appointed as the CEO. He previously served as the CEO of UAE-based airline Etihad Airways from January 2018 until October 2022. Riyadh Air is set to be a ‘world-class airline’, and is expected to add $20 billion to non-oil GDP growth and create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Implementing a dual airline system and establishing a network with two hub locations.

In a span of just over six months, the Saudi aviation market has experienced a comprehensive transformation, marked by the launch of Riyad Air and the rebranding of Saudia, the kingdom’s flag carrier. The country’s aviation sector is gearing up for the emergence of two major carriers boasting a combined fleet exceeding 200 aircraft.

By 2030, the airline foresees a substantial surge in passenger traffic, estimating a yearly volume of 330 million passengers—ten times the current capacity. SV has played a pivotal role in driving extensive investments in the Red Sea region, particularly in the tourism sector, exemplified by the Red Sea International Airport (RSI) project. Notably, SV marked a milestone by operating the inaugural flight to RSI on October 29, 2023.

Riyadh Air’s Strategic Vision and Codeshare Agreement with Saudia at The Dubai Airshow 2023

At the Dubai Airshow 2023, Peter Bellew, the Chief Operating Officer of Riyadh Air, revealed RX’s plans for its fleet and network strategy. He provided a comprehensive overview of the imminent transformation of the Saudi aviation market, stating, “Saudia currently has excess business with the current fleet in Jeddah. Gradually, there will be a relocation back to Jeddah.” Bellew further explained, “We are collaborating with Saudia in various ways, keeping in mind that Riyadh is the capital, and our brand is synonymous with Riyadh. As we expand globally, we will actively promote the capital and its attractions.”

Bellew also highlighted that the airline has initiated the application process for the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and has successfully onboarded the initial 20 pilots. RX expresses confidence in the planned launch in 2025, as initially announced.

Also, During the 2023 Dubai Airshow on November 12, the airlines entered into a codeshare agreement. This collaboration aims to establish an extensive interconnected network for passengers, utilizing the Riyadh and Jeddah hubs. In the coming years, the Jeddah-Riyadh airbridge is expected to rank among the world’s top ten largest.

Nevertheless, the competition dynamics in the complex Middle Eastern market pose an intriguing aspect to consider. This region serves as a crucial connection point for billions of people traveling between the six continents. The effectiveness and appeal of a dual-airport mega-hub system for passengers and their layovers remain subjects to be explored. Stay tuned to Airways for the latest updates on the continually evolving Saudi aviation industry and the unfolding of this system.

Featured Image by Dirk Grothe

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