Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the creation of a new national airline “Riyadh Air,” wholly owned by the Public Investment Fund, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The airline seeks to enable Riyadh to become a gateway to the world and a global destination for transportation, trade, and tourism.
The airline will be chaired by PIF Gov. Yasir Al-Rumayyan while Tony Douglas has been appointed its CEO, said a statement issued by the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund.
Operating from the Saudi capital as its hub, the airline is expected to add $20 billion to the Kingdom’s non-oil gross domestic product growth and create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“The new national airline represents PIF’s latest investment in the sector, along with the recently announced King Salman International Airport masterplan,” the statement added.
“Riyadh Air will also act as a catalyst for the Saudi National Transport and Logistics Strategy and the National Tourism Strategy by boosting air transportation alternatives, increasing cargo capacity, and, as a result, increasing international passenger traffic,” it said.
The new airline is the latest in “a huge package of projects” that will “consolidate our country’s position as an international hub for aviation and a global logistics center,” Saudi Transport Minister Saleh Al-Jasser said on Twitter.
The launch of Riyadh Air is part of PIF’s plan to utilize the capabilities of promising industries and help the Kingdom achieve its goal of economic diversification. The sovereign fund has more than $600 billion in assets and is the main driver of the Kingdom’s efforts to wean itself off oil.
Last November officials announced plans for a new airport in the capital Riyadh — spanning 57 sq. km (22 sq. m) — that is set to accommodate 120 million travelers per year by 2030 and 185 million travelers by 2050.
The capacity of the existing Riyadh airport is around 35 million travelers.
Commenting on the launch of the new airline, Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb wrote on Twitter that the new airline is a “major breakthrough” and will give a major boost to the Kingdom’s tourism sector. He said the launch of the airline support “our goal of receive 100 million tourists from all over the world by 2030.”