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.
The crown prince said the new airline was part of his ambitious Vision 2030 plan to diversify the oil-dependent economy and transform Saudi Arabia into a global hub for trade, tourism and culture.
He said Riyadh Air would operate from a new airport in the capital city, which is undergoing a massive expansion and modernization project, and would aim to connect more than 100 destinations worldwide by 2030.
He also said the new airline would create more than 50,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute more than 50 billion riyals ($13.3 billion) to the gross domestic product by 2030.
The crown prince said Riyadh Air would offer high-quality services and competitive prices to attract both domestic and international travelers.
He said the new airline would complement the existing national carrier, Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), which would focus on serving pilgrims and religious tourists.
He said Riyadh Air would also cooperate with other airlines in the region and beyond to enhance connectivity and customer satisfaction.
The crown prince appointed Tony Douglas, a former chief executive of Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi Airports, as the chief executive of Riyadh Air.
He said Douglas had a proven track record of leading successful aviation businesses and delivering complex projects.
He also praised Douglas for his experience in sustainability and innovation, which he said were key pillars of Vision 2030.
Douglas said he was honored and excited to join Riyadh Air and thanked the crown prince for his trust and support.
He said he looked forward to building a world-class airline that would showcase the best of Saudi Arabia and its people.
He said he was confident that Riyadh Air would become a leading player in the global aviation industry and a catalyst for economic growth and social development in the kingdom.
Riyadh Air is expected to start operations in 2024, according to the state news agency SPA.