The State of Riyadh Air at One Year – Airways | Airlines

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DALLAS — On March 12, 2023, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia made a global media splash with the Riyadh Air (RX) announcement. This new airline aimed to revolutionize air travel by offering a fully digital and immersive experience onboard.

Since then, RX has tirelessly worked to promote its brand, strategy, and long-term goals with remarkable dedication. The airline has set its sights on commencing operations in Spring 2025. However, there has been little visible progress regarding the operational aspect, at least in the public eye.

As we mark the airline’s first anniversary, it is worth reviewing RX’s commercial and operational milestones. Airways has gathered insights from two key figures at the airline, Vincent Coste (Chief Commercial Officer) and Peter Bellew (Chief Operating Officer).

The mediatic attention Riyadh Air has received since its creation has been outstanding. Photo: Riyadh Air

Riyadh Air Before Launch, First Impressions


The airline’s inauguration was a strategic move anticipated by the commercial aviation community for months. In November 2022, widespread rumors existed about a new company called RIA Airlines emerging in the Middle East. This airline was explicitly designed to aid Saudi Arabia in expanding its aviation sector and competing with neighboring countries.

The official launch of RX took place on March 12, 2023, and Tony Douglas was appointed Chief Commercial Officer of the new carrier. Douglas is a highly influential figure in the airline industry and has played a crucial role in the recent growth of Etihad Airways (ET), now the second-largest airline in the UAE.

During the international reveal, it was also confirmed that RX’s initial financial objectives were to contribute US$20 billion to the Saudi GDP (excluding oil exploitation) and generate more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.

On its first day, RX announced plans to expand its route network to over 100 destinations by 2030. However, no…

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