Saudi Arabia is in talks to order 40 A350 long-range wide-body passenger aircraft from European aerospace manufacturer Airbus, Reuters reported, citing industry sources.
The new planes could potentially join the fleet of the country’s new upcoming national air carrier, Riyadh-based RIA, people familiar with the matter told Reuters on October 23, 2022. The acquisition, which is reportedly valued at approximately $12 billion at list prices, could be officially announced by the kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) during the Future Investment Initiative (FII) forum, which is scheduled to take place between October 25 and October 27, 2022.
Neither Airbus, Boeing nor PIF had any comment on the reported order, according to the Reuters article.
What do we know about RIA so far?
One of Saudi Arabia’s objectives for Vision 2030 is a $100 billion investment in the aviation sector over the next eight years, the bulk of which will go towards establishing a new national carrier serving global routes. The country aims to serve at least 30 million travelers yearly, compared to 4 million currently and it is hoping to launch operations with the new airline in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The PIF-backed airline will compete with other major airlines in the region, such as Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad Airways.
According to a report by Arabian Business, the country is investing $30 billion in the new airline, which is targeting more than 150 routes across 80 countries.
Saudi Arabia plans to make Riyadh the new carrier’s base. Saudia, the current national carrier, is based in Jeddah.
While Saudia’s current focus is the religious traffic market, bringing pilgrims to Saudi Arabia’s holy sites, especially during the Hajj pilgrimage, RIA is expected to strengthen the country’s position across other markets, including Africa and Asia-Pacific.