Report: Saudi Arabia’s RIA To Place Huge Aircraft Order

Report: Saudi Arabia’s RIA To Place Huge Aircraft Order

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RIA, Saudi Arabia’s new mega-airline startup, is expected to announce a huge aircraft order shortly.

RIA expected to order Airbus A350s

Reuters is reporting that Saudi Arabia’s new airline, RIA, is expected to announce its first aircraft order shortly, as soon as this week. According to industry sources, the airline will announce an order for up to 40 Airbus A350s. At list prices, this would represent a $12 billion investment by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

It remains to be seen if other aircraft might be part of this order as well. PIF had also been in negotiations for up to 75 Boeing 787s, so it could be that the airline plans to order both jets. After all, if the airline wants to become Emirates but at a much faster pace, it’ll need lots of planes.

Initial rumors were that the airline would start by ordering narrow body jets, but it looks like RIA is immediately going for bigger planes.

The choice of aircraft supplier could be political here, especially with deepening tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia. That certainly suggests that an Airbus order would be more likely than a Boeing order.

RIA could order Boeing 787s as well

The basics of RIA, Saudi Arabia’s new airline

For some background on RIA, this is Saudi Arabia’s plan to launch a new mega-airline that’s intended to compete with the other major Gulf carriers. Saudi Arabia is investing in tourism to a scale we haven’t ever seen before, and part of that involves a new airline. The country plans to invest $100 billion in aviation by 2030.

The plan is for RIA to be a Riyadh-based airline. Current national airline Saudia will continue to exist, but will be Jeddah-based. The airline will serve both tourists and business travelers, and the goal is to become the size of Emirates, but in a quarter as much time. The airline will largely focus on transit passengers traveling between other countries, which might be a tough sell among many travelers, given Saudi Arabia’s reputation.

Before anyone thinks this is just a theoretical concept, this airline absolutely seems to be a thing that Saudi Arabia is committed to. The country has poached Etihad CEO Tony Douglas to run the airline, and I know the airline has already hired several key executives from other airlines.

Saudi Arabia has poached Etihad’s CEO

Bottom line

Saudi Arabian airline startup RIA is expected to place a large aircraft order. It’s rumored that the airline will order up to 40 Airbus A350s, though we could also see some Boeing 787s ordered, given the pace at which the airline is looking to expand.

While we’ve obviously seen Gulf airlines grow over the years, the plans for RIA are truly unprecedented, as we’ve never seen such an ambitious and well funded airline project. It’s going to be interesting to see how this all plays out.

What do you make of RIA’s planned aircraft order?

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  1. Adnan Haris Guest

    I was sent by PIA to Dubai with wet lease aircraft to fly for Emirates. I heard same kind of comments then, and the established airlines took as a small airline and they even said, " It's just a taxi service and can never grow" but see what happened.

    Emirates was not selling seats they were selling Dubai and Emirates was a small part of it. Certainly Dubai Economy, image changed when passenger transited...

    I was sent by PIA to Dubai with wet lease aircraft to fly for Emirates. I heard same kind of comments then, and the established airlines took as a small airline and they even said, " It's just a taxi service and can never grow" but see what happened.

    Emirates was not selling seats they were selling Dubai and Emirates was a small part of it. Certainly Dubai Economy, image changed when passenger transited or lay over in Dubai even for just a night, it was the Government of Dubai they had the vision to make Dubai known to world, so Emirates was supported by them. But I must give the credit to the Emirates management that they made the product very attractive and remained with the vision of Sheikh through out.

  2. amarjot singh Guest

    saudi airline
    during ramadan they serve nothing at all not even a glass of water..
    crazy once you have cleared the saudi sky start beung international and keep your flyers happy..
    sorry to say but i v never flown saudia ever after that...

  3. GLCTraveler Member

    Riyadh as a primary destination or the Muslim community are NOT the reason for RIA, nor are destinations like Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Tabuk or even Abha, Jizan as they will be dry(no alcohol) too, but maybe NEOM could be as they are supposed to have a designated "Alcohol Zone"...... The rest of KSA, including all the BILLIONs of $$ being spent on multiple fancy entertainment venues(SEVEN and even LIV Golf) there are NO plans to...

    Riyadh as a primary destination or the Muslim community are NOT the reason for RIA, nor are destinations like Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Tabuk or even Abha, Jizan as they will be dry(no alcohol) too, but maybe NEOM could be as they are supposed to have a designated "Alcohol Zone"...... The rest of KSA, including all the BILLIONs of $$ being spent on multiple fancy entertainment venues(SEVEN and even LIV Golf) there are NO plans to add "Legalized" alcohol to the equation!!
    RIA is only a grand investment to make money off the rest of the world by MBS and hopefully to entice a few curious tourists to come and visit Saudi to see the several natural & cultural wonders there. I'm certain that the tourist segment only accounted for 1-2% of revenue in the slick P&L slideshow that their management consultant used to convince MBS to pull the $100B trigger!!
    Those guys & gals from KPMG, EY, Booz, McKinsey, and Strategy&, etc. can sell sand to bedouins!!! :-)

  4. glenn t Diamond

    I suspect RIA is a vanity project of the Saudi Crown Prince. It has his fingermarks all over it. Seems to me to be an airline with limited international appeal beyond the Muslim/Middle East diaspora.
    A great way to burn truckloads of money!
    I don't think His Excellency over at Qatar Airways will be losing any sleep over this project.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      "I don't think His Excellency over at Qatar Airways will be losing any sleep over this project."

      That's what the Euro and Australian carriers thought about the ME3 two decades ago......

      Money talks. If they truly start spending the underlying billions for this, it'd be foolish to not take it as a very serious competitive threat.

  5. TPAalltheway Guest

    They could spent X10 the amount of money and I’d still never give them my business. I’ll gladly pay more to fly with literally anyone else. And, I’d imagine a lot of people feel that way. They’ll have to focus on the Muslim community as I don’t expect anyone else will want to engage with them. Not sure that’s enough to warrant the investment.

    1. Jack Guest

      This comment was probably written using a smartphone produced in a sweatshop with child laborers by a citizen from a country that has a long history of human rights abuses elsewhere in the world but that citizen refuses to believe any of it.

      Get your minds out of the gutter, yes Saudi Arabia has a dismal human rights record but so do most other countries around the world and that includes the US,...

      This comment was probably written using a smartphone produced in a sweatshop with child laborers by a citizen from a country that has a long history of human rights abuses elsewhere in the world but that citizen refuses to believe any of it.

      Get your minds out of the gutter, yes Saudi Arabia has a dismal human rights record but so do most other countries around the world and that includes the US, Canada (residential schools, anyone?), and most of Europe.

      Plus, the absolute narcissism in believing that a country investing 12 billion dollars in an airline singularly cares about your business is both hilarious and sad.

    2. George Guest

      I'd never fly RIA either, and yes, I have an iPhone and am not talking about talking about human rights abuses. Though to equate the current Saudi crown prince ordering the chopping up a journalist with a hacksaw to mistreatment of native populations 50+ years ago is just stupid.

      I'd never fly RIA because it's going to be crappy. It took twenty years for Emirates to work out the kinks, learn how to provide good...

      I'd never fly RIA either, and yes, I have an iPhone and am not talking about talking about human rights abuses. Though to equate the current Saudi crown prince ordering the chopping up a journalist with a hacksaw to mistreatment of native populations 50+ years ago is just stupid.

      I'd never fly RIA because it's going to be crappy. It took twenty years for Emirates to work out the kinks, learn how to provide good customer service and a superior product. There's no way that any airline sponsored by MBS is going to be any good, anytime soon, no matter how much money you throw at it.

  6. Alec New Member

    They're either going to have to severely out price ME3 or offer a significantly better product (eg all extra leg room econ seats). Neither of which seems profitable...

  7. Steve R Guest

    Meh, if RIA goes A350 they'll pick up 19 of the canceled Qatar slots; it'll be more a make-up order. No big gain for Airbus order book wise.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      first, if Ria orders 40, it will be an increase over QR's book in part depending on several other large potential orders from other airlines.
      Delta execs supposedly have told multiple employee groups that they are asking their board for approval to add the A350-1000 and an order could involve picking up the 5 or 6 A350-1000s that have been built but were not delivered to QR before the order cancelled. DL has a...

      first, if Ria orders 40, it will be an increase over QR's book in part depending on several other large potential orders from other airlines.
      Delta execs supposedly have told multiple employee groups that they are asking their board for approval to add the A350-1000 and an order could involve picking up the 5 or 6 A350-1000s that have been built but were not delivered to QR before the order cancelled. DL has a pretty hefty delivery schedule for new widebodies over the next few years but they do operate the A350-900 so they could slot in the built aircraft now and take the others later.
      UA has an order for 45 A350-900s on its books for later this decade but is considering a much larger order with a likely cancellation of the A350 order and adding more B787s due to commonality and the lower price for the 787.
      AI also is supposedly talking to Airbus about its own order - but they could also be interested in QR's in-service A350 fleet once QR finds a replacement.
      It isn't clear how much of all this will become real orders net net but there is an interest in widebody orders again and Airbus needs more total orders esp. for the -1000.

  8. Tocqueville Guest

    I believe the missing context here is the development of "The Line" city currently underway. While unlikely if it is built one could see this mega order making sense. I haven't seen much or any mention of "The Line" in most blogger commentary about this order to date.

    1. GLCTraveler Member

      "The Line" is an out-of-control wet dream by MBS.................. ;-)

  9. John T Guest

    The only way I see this new airline working is if it concentrates on connecting the almost 2 billion Muslims around the world, i.e. flying from countries with large Muslim populations, connecting in Saudi Arabia. I imagine there would be demand from, say, Malaysia to Nigeria. The airline could promote its Muslim values, such as no alcohol, observing Ramadan etc and could be attractive to Muslims wishing to travel but wanting to fly with an...

    The only way I see this new airline working is if it concentrates on connecting the almost 2 billion Muslims around the world, i.e. flying from countries with large Muslim populations, connecting in Saudi Arabia. I imagine there would be demand from, say, Malaysia to Nigeria. The airline could promote its Muslim values, such as no alcohol, observing Ramadan etc and could be attractive to Muslims wishing to travel but wanting to fly with an airline that understands and upholds their religious beliefs.

    What will not work is if they expect millions of non-Muslims to fly with them just because they have new planes and low fares. They shouldn't be trying to compete with Emirates because the UAE is a popular destination for western travellers by Saudi Arabia simply is not and without massive changes, will never be.

    1. Malc Member

      John, the plan is for Saudia to concentrate on religious pilgrims (hence, its hub is in Jeddah, close to the pilgrimage destinations). RIA will be based in Riyadh, where they're building the world's largest entertainment city. No doubt, they'll hope that transit traffic will stop over. As has been discussed in other posts, this airline will probably eventually serve alcohol.

    2. Icarus Guest

      Riyadh. The world’s largest entertainment city. To compete with Las Vegas ? I wouldn’t go to KSA to visit a six flags.

    3. Malc Member

      From what I've read, the Six Flags will just be a speck in Qiddiya. There'll be a lot more besides. But sure, it won't appeal to a lot of people.

    4. GLCTraveler Member

      Riyadh is NOT the destination most will concentrate on, nor Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Tabuk or even Abha, Jizan as they will be dry too, but maybe NEOM as they are supposed to have an "Alcohol Zone" area.... The rest of KSA including all the new BILLIONs of $$ being spent on fancy entertainment venues there are NO plans to add "Legalized" alcohol to equation!!
      RIA is only a grand investment to make money off...

      Riyadh is NOT the destination most will concentrate on, nor Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, Tabuk or even Abha, Jizan as they will be dry too, but maybe NEOM as they are supposed to have an "Alcohol Zone" area.... The rest of KSA including all the new BILLIONs of $$ being spent on fancy entertainment venues there are NO plans to add "Legalized" alcohol to equation!!
      RIA is only a grand investment to make money off the rest of the world by MBS and hopefully to entice a few curious tourist to come and visit Saudi to see the several natural & cultural wonders there. But, I'm certain that the tourist segment only accounted for 1-2% of revenue in the slick P&L slideshow that their management consultant used to convince MBS to pull the $100B trigger!!
      Those guys & gals from KPMG, EY, Booz, McKinsey, and Strategy&, etc. can sell sand to bedouins!!! :-)

    5. Bagoly Guest

      Are there really many people wanting to travel between Nigeria and Malaysia?
      Perhaps some rich Nigerians going on holiday (or to Bali in Indonesia) but would there be enough given Emirates and Qatar's pre-existence.

      I think diasporas are more likely, E.g. Birmingham to Pakistan/Bangladesh, Amsterdam to Indonesia.

  10. Michael_FFM Member

    I wonder more what kind of Champagne they’ll serve;)
    Not that I’ll ever set foot on one of their aircraft.

    1. Aziz Guest

      Champagne????? Don't be stupid or illiterate. Or you are just and idiot or pretending to be one

    2. Jack Guest

      Sorry to break it to you but that’s the whole point of that airline.
      Just because you don’t like the idea doesn’t mean it’s not true.

    3. Michael_FFM Member

      Don’t insult people, the “;)” should have been clear enough. They want to compete with EK, EY and QR. What do these airlines have in common? They serve alcohol. RIA will not have much of a chance competing for non-Muslim transfer passengers if they don’t. And they won’t. Which is why RIA will have the chance of a snowball in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

  11. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Given that the A350 is a larger, longer range aircraft than the B787, RIA might go w/ Airbus on that basis but Boeing better hope they are not shut out of this order because of Biden's comment about Saudi Arabia facing "consequences" for cutting oil production ahead of the US midterms.

    1. Eve Guest

      I don’t think his comments relates to commercial trade. It has more to do with the US weapons that Saudi relies upon heavily for there proxy wars against Iran

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Eve,
      whether that was Biden's intention or not, veiled threats can be taken by the recipient anyway they want and they can reciprocate however they want. Boeing does not need that when it is trying to compete for global business.
      and, second, even if it involves military technology, why would any leader think that threatening to cut off military sales is going to help anyone in the US? US defense contractors make enormous...

      Eve,
      whether that was Biden's intention or not, veiled threats can be taken by the recipient anyway they want and they can reciprocate however they want. Boeing does not need that when it is trying to compete for global business.
      and, second, even if it involves military technology, why would any leader think that threatening to cut off military sales is going to help anyone in the US? US defense contractors make enormous amounts of money on foreign arm sales which ultimately subsdizes what America pays for its own defense. Saudi Arabia knows full well that US technology is superior to Russia's but that doesn't mean that Russian technology can't serve some purposes. The US should not give any country to go shopping elsewhere for any reason.
      A couple major orders for the A350 esp. due to political reasons is a de facto loss for Boeing.

    3. Andy Guest

      That's exactly what will happen. Biden has put his BIG foot in it this time. The US and Boeing are going to loose out of Billions of dollars worth of business just because he can't keep his mouth shut. We would never had to import oil from SA if he had not shut down all the oil production in the US

    4. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      "We would never had to import oil from SA if he had not shut down all the oil production in the US"

      Not that facts will quell your need to rant idiotic inaccuracies...

      ...but the USA's weekly rolling average for crude production is right at 12million barrels per day, which is above the mean of 11.15million barrels incurred during the four years of the Trump administration.

      September 2022's production was higher than 34 months'...

      "We would never had to import oil from SA if he had not shut down all the oil production in the US"

      Not that facts will quell your need to rant idiotic inaccuracies...

      ...but the USA's weekly rolling average for crude production is right at 12million barrels per day, which is above the mean of 11.15million barrels incurred during the four years of the Trump administration.

      September 2022's production was higher than 34 months' individual production during the former administration as well; 25 months if you wish to omit the Covid drop-off for fairness.

      https://ycharts.com/indicators/us_crude_oil_field_production

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Michael_FFM Member

Don’t insult people, the “;)” should have been clear enough. They want to compete with EK, EY and QR. What do these airlines have in common? They serve alcohol. RIA will not have much of a chance competing for non-Muslim transfer passengers if they don’t. And they won’t. Which is why RIA will have the chance of a snowball in the desert of Saudi Arabia.

1
Jack Guest

Sorry to break it to you but that’s the whole point of that airline. Just because you don’t like the idea doesn’t mean it’s not true.

1
Jack Guest

This comment was probably written using a smartphone produced in a sweatshop with child laborers by a citizen from a country that has a long history of human rights abuses elsewhere in the world but that citizen refuses to believe any of it. Get your minds out of the gutter, yes Saudi Arabia has a dismal human rights record but so do most other countries around the world and that includes the US, Canada (residential schools, anyone?), and most of Europe. Plus, the absolute narcissism in believing that a country investing 12 billion dollars in an airline singularly cares about your business is both hilarious and sad.

1
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