ArabiaTravelNews.com spoke to Peter Bellew, CEO of Riyadh Air, where we delved into the visionary future of the airline.
Riyadh Air aspires to revolutionize air travel, not only by introducing modern standards but by becoming the most forward-thinking carrier globally. In this interview, Bellew outlines the airline’s commitment to sustainability, aligning with 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. With a strategic focus on Saudi Arabia’s National Transport and Logistics Strategy, Riyadh Air aims to contribute $20 billion to non-oil GDP growth and create over 200,000 jobs.
With plans to connect over 100 destinations worldwide, Riyadh Air is set to enhance Saudi Arabia’s global connectivity. Bellew addresses the airline’s approach to transit hubs, leveraging Saudi Arabia’s geographical advantage.
From network growth, strategic partnerships, fleet expansion, and Riyadh Air’s ambition to be a leading force in digital innovation and global aviation sustainability by 2030, Bellew discusses Riyadh Air’s pivotal role in Vision 2030, serving as a catalyst for economic growth and positioning the airline as a key player in the Kingdom’s ambitious technological advancements.
The interview also sheds light on Riyadh Air’s commitment to a digitally-led approach, ensuring a seamless and innovative passenger experience while ensuring they remain committed to aviation sustainability, setting the benchmark for environmental responsibility, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices within the industry.
What is your vision for Riyadh Air?
Riyadh Air will not only be introducing new modern standards in the aviation sector, we will also be the most forward-thinking carrier in the skies by embracing the latest innovations in technology and adopting the best sustainability practices, elevating air travel and setting a new standard for reliability, comfort, and hospitality. Through seamless digital solutions and an obsessive attention to even the smallest detail, every step of the Riyadh Air journey will be carefully crafted to offer an unparalleled guest experience. Riyadh Air also aims to adopt as many of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) as possible into our business and set the benchmark for airline sustainability practices.
What’s the business case for starting Riyadh Air? What kind of cooperation will you have with the Kingdom’s flag carrier, Saudia?
Riyadh Air will serve as a catalyst for the National Transport and Logistics Strategy and help realize its aviation sector goals by optimizing the Kingdom’s strategic location connecting the three continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe and boost the competitiveness of national airlines internationally to fulfil Vision 2030 goals. In terms of a business case, Riyadh Air is expected to contribute $20b to non-oil GDP growth to KSA’s economy as well as creating more than 200,000 jobs directly and indirectly. Vision 2030 aims to transform the Kingdom into a technologically advanced state and as a digitally native airline, Riyadh Air will be one of the most advanced in the world. We will be integrated within the KSA airline ecosystem that expands KSA’s reach and connectivity in line with the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision.
Tell us your plans for network growth in the first year– will we see Riyadh Air flying point-to-point on short-haul and long-haul destinations?
The team at Riyadh Air is working by an established operations schedule that ensures all airline milestones are achieved in line with the Saudi aviation ecosystem ambitions. Our plan is to support the Saudi ambition to triple annual travelers to 330 million and attract 150 million tourists to the Kingdom by 2030, at which point Riyadh Air will be connecting business and leisure travelers to more than 100 destinations worldwide. We will share further information in due course around the destinations that Riyadh Air will be flying to. We recently announced that we have agreed a Strategic Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding with Turkish Airlines to offer a comprehensive range of benefits for guests traveling between Saudi and Türkiye, along with several other MoU’s with industry partners which we are excited about.
Are you looking to establish the airline as a transit hub – similar to Emirates or Qatar Airways?
Riyadh Air will leverage point-to-point demand to be competitive on connecting traffic. Riyadh Air will also leverage Saudi Arabia’s geographic location between the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe to reach destinations that currently have low connectivity to the capital of Riyadh.
Can we expect to see more aircraft orders added to the 72 Boeing 787-9 orders announced earlier this year?
We have recently concluded our narrow-body campaign and we are in advanced talks to buy a significant number of narrow-body jets. We’ve been encouraged by the interest from across the aviation ecosystem and expect to make some exciting announcements in the coming weeks. Riyadh Air will have the most efficient aircraft and our new Dreamliner 787 aircrafts will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 30 percent with a 60 percent noise reduction.
The airline has spoken about being Digitally led. What does this mean for passengers?
Riyadh Air will be the most forward-thinking carrier in the skies by embracing the latest innovations in technology and adopting the best sustainability practices, elevating air travel and setting a new standard for reliability, comfort, and hospitality. Through seamless digital solutions and an obsessive attention to even the smallest detail, every step of the Riyadh Air journey will be carefully crafted to offer an unparalleled guest experience. We will weave the latest digital technologies into every step of the journey, to ensure our services run smoothly and offer guests a seamless travel experience.
What can passengers expect onboard Riyadh Air?
Our guests will get to experience authentic, warm Saudi hospitality, which is at the heart of what we do, with a modern twist, for an exceptional travel experience from the moment they think of travel until the moment they reach their destination. Riyadh Air will focus on digital touchpoints across every step of the journey.
Where do you see Riyadh Air by 2030?
The aim is for Riyadh Air to be operating around the world and to be a world leader in aviation sustainability. We will be the voice of the aviation industry on sustainability issues. As a new start-up airline, Riyadh Air will lead the way and integrate sustainability into every area of our business, and we pledge to take no shortcuts when it comes to the environment, CSR and ESG. Sustainability will run throughout the airline, from flight and ground operations to the office culture, to transportation and Riyadh Air employees at home.