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Riyadh Air to begin flights towards certification in September 2024  

Saudi Arabia’s startup international carrier Riyadh Air has announced that the airline intends to start pre-certification flights in September 2024 and remains on track to commence scheduled passenger services in the middle of 2025. 

Speaking at the Future Aviation Forum being held in Riyadh between May 20 and 22, 2024, the airline’s CEO, Tony Douglas, stated that it had already recruited its initial tranche of 38 pilots which includes several training captains. The certification flights, which will form part of the process in the airline being awarded its Air Operator Certificate (AOC), will take place between September and November 2024.  

“We’ll go into service in the summer of next year,” Douglas stated. “The energy in the place is absolutely palpable. It’s all about the excitement of a start-up.” 

In addition to flight crew, the carrier has also been busy recruiting cabin crew members and has recently inducted its third intake of flight attendant recruits, according to Douglas. He also revealed that the new designs for cabin crew uniforms are due to be unveiled during the Paris Fashion Show being held between June 18 and 23, 2024. 

Douglas commented that the new uniforms will “give a statement of what this brand’s all about” and added that the airline will also show off its digital proposition later in 2024. 

Riyadh Air was first unveiled as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s new airline in March 2023 and quickly announced an order for 39 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to be powered by General Electric GEnx-1B engines, with another 33 options. The airline is aiming to serve over 100 destinations by 2030.      


Riyadh Air

It remains to be seen how exactly Riyadh Air and incumbent national carrier Saudia will co-exist in the market, although with the Kingdom’s ‘Vision 2030’ plan, tourism to the country is forecast to balloon in the coming years. That said, Saudia has already announced that it will vacate operations from Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport (RUH), shifting the focus of its operations to Jeddah while leaving the newcomer to Dominate at its namesake airport. Saudi Arabia’s two largest cities are located 500 miles (800km) apart which equates to around two hours of flying time.  

Douglas said that improving connectivity between the Kingdom and the rest of the world remains Riyadh Air’s priority, highlighting that many major cities worldwide remain without direct air connections with Saudi Arabia currently, such as Tokyo and Shanghai. 

This is simply unacceptable for a G20 country,” Douglas said. “We need to get Riyadh, the capital city, far greater connectivity.” 

“We’re going to connect to way over 100 destinations by 2030. But [Riyadh Air] has ten years’ worth of catching up to do to give Saudi citizens the connectivity they deserve,” Douglas added.  

Riyadh Air

The next major announcement from the airline is expected to be for narrow-bodied aircraft, which is widely expected to follow in the next few weeks. According to Vincent Coste, the carrier’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) speaking to Reuters on May 7. 2024, the airline’s order for narrowbody jets should be done “within the next weeks”. However, Coste emphasized that the carrier was in no rush to announce the order, and refused to disclose whether it would be Airbus or Boeing who would be the successful manufacturer.  

Meanwhile, at the Future of Aviation Forum, countrymate Saudia announced that it had ordered 105 Airbus A320neo-family jets. Speaking in support of that deal, Douglas said that the Saudia agreement “reinforced the amount of energy in the kingdom and its understanding of the importance of global connectivity”. 

The post Riyadh Air to begin flights towards certification in September 2024   appeared first on AeroTime.

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