Riyadh Air’s CEO has unveiled an exceptionally ambitious growth strategy that goes beyond direct competition with regional giants like Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways.
In an interview with the Financial Times in the UK, CEO Tony Douglas underscored the airline’s central objective: to serve as a point-to-point carrier, spurring expansion within Saudi Arabia’s local market, rather than positioning itself as a transit-focused airline.
While Emirates and Qatar Airways have successfully implemented strategies targeting transit passengers, transforming Dubai and Doha into major connecting hubs, Riyadh Air is charting a distinct course.
During the same interview, Douglas, who formerly held the position of CEO at Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, also revealed Riyadh Air’s intention to tap into niche markets and destinations. In contrast, Saudia will shift its focus towards accommodating the millions of religious pilgrims visiting the nation’s holy sites.
Scheduled for launch in 2025, Riyadh Air has a substantial order book comprising 39 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner wide-body aircraft, accompanied by an agreement with GE Aerospace for 90 GEnx-1B engines to power its upcoming fleet.
A key initiative of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), Riyadh Air had previously announced its strategic goal to leverage the kingdom’s advantageous location, connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe, to establish connectivity from the capital city to over 100 destinations by 2030.