Riyadh Air Set To Decide On Narrowbody Order After Dubai Airshow

Riyadh Air
Credit: Aviation Week Network

DUBAI—Riyadh Air will need “a few more weeks” to decide on a large order for narrowbodies, Chief Operating Officer Peter Bellew says on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow. Details of contractual negotiations are still to be finalized.

The airline earlier this year committed to 40 Boeing 787-9s and plans to start operations towards the middle of 2025 with its network centered on Saudi Arabia's capital. It has been considering placing a significant order for narrowbodies for some time. Given that the 737 MAX has more slots available in the short term and the Airbus A320neo family is essentially sold out until around 2030, industry sources have said an order for the Boeing narrowbody is more likely than for the competing Airbus aircraft.

Meanwhile, Riyadh Air is working intensively towards being granted its air operator’s certificate (AOC). “Most postholders are in place,” Bellew says. The process is moving “at pace” in close cooperation with the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). Riyadh Air is also about to announce further internal IT infrastructure deals soon. “We would like to get things done for in advance,” Bellew adds.

One main reason for the early moves is demonstrating to potential employees that Riyadh Air is a good place to work for. “The biggest challenge is getting great talent,” Bellew says.

Meanwhile, Riyadh Air and flag-carrier Saudia signed a memorandum of understanding regarding strategic cooperation. The deal includes a comprehensive interline and codesharing agreement on the respective networks. The scope of the arrangement also includes the frequent flyer programs.

Riyadh Air is planned to only operate routes originating in Riyadh, whereas Saudia is to focus on growing its Jeddah base.

Jens Flottau

Based in Frankfurt, Germany, Jens is executive editor and leads Aviation Week Network’s global team of journalists covering commercial aviation.