Launch of Riyadh Air – Saudi Arabia’s New Long-Haul Airline

Is it time for Emirates and Qatar Airways to start watching their backs?

Newly announced Riyadh Air is causing a stir as it was announced the new Saudi Airline, with its operational hub to be in Riyadh, will be looking to take a slice of the very lucrative Middle East air traffic pie.

Riyadh Air written over an image of Riyadh city lights at night

Why is the Middle East so popular for airlines?

Put simply; it’s pretty darn close to the centre of the earth’s population. You are central to flights from Europe, Asia, and Africa and provide an ideal stopping point for those long hauls between the Americas and Australia.

When Will Riyadh Launch?

Early indications are that the airline will be in operation by 2025, with the first order placed for 39 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

The state-owned airline, under the guidance of newly appointed CEO Tony Douglas (previous CEO of Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier), has set out ambitious plans to serve more than 100 destinations by 2030.

The announcement of Riyadh Air further supports Vision 2030 where Saudi Arabia is aiming for 100 million annual visitors to the Kingdom.

Logo for Riyadh Air

Airlines In Saudi Arabia

Riyadh Air would continue to operate alongside state-owned Saudia (with a focus on regional religious travel) and the soon-to-launch Neom Airlines, expected to launch in late 2024/early 2025, with a narrow focus on tourism to Neom and the Red Sea.

Things to do in Riyadh

So the question will be, stay in the airport or make it a stopover when visiting Riyadh? Here is some more inspiration to get you thinking about future travel via Saudi Arabia:

Take me back to the Saudi Arabia with kid’s home page

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Family Travel Middle East
Family Travel Middle East

The Family Travel in the Middle East team of travel writers are all parents based in the Middle East, sharing first hand experiences and reviews from across the region to help you plan your next family adventure.

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