Riyadh Air Expects To Place Large Narrowbody Order In The Coming Months


CEO Tony Douglas confirmed at the World Aviation Festival in Lisbon that the carrier was in the final stages of its anticipated narrowbody Photo: Riyadh Air


  • Riyadh Air is in the final stages of a “significant” narrowbody aircraft order as part of its ambitious expansion plans, Tony Douglas has confirmed.
    Boeing was previously reported to be courting the airline for a Boeing 737 MAX order, joining its existing order for 72 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
    Riyadh Air aims to connect to over 100 destinations by 2030, targeting the growing demand for travel to and from Saudi Arabia.

Saudi startup Riyadh Air is inching ever closer to a “sizable” narrowbody order, according to CEO Tony Douglas. Speaking at the World Aviation Festival in Lisbon, Douglas confirmed that the to-be-launched carrier was in the process of finalizing an order, though he did not clarify details. As reported by Reuters, Douglas noted,
“Probably in the coming months we’ll reveal it. We’re in the final stages of a sizable narrow-body order … and that one might not be our last order either.”

Growing fleets
The carrier previously confirmed it was in talks with Airbus and Boeing to add a significant number of narrowbody jets alongside its existing 72-strong Boeing 787 Dreamliner order ahead of its projected 2025 launch date.

In May, Bloomberg reported that US aerospace powerhouse Boeing was courting the Saudi Arabian airline for a 150-strong 737 MAX order, taking advantage of Airbus’ growing A321neo backlog limiting deliveries before 2029. If selected, the roughly $8 billion order may boost Boeing’s balance sheet following setbacks to its 737 MAX and 787 programs.

Up to 400 total narrowbody aircraft could be ordered by the carrier as it looks to scale up. Though it has yet to begin operations, Riyadh Air is already eyeing a rapid expansion, targeting a network of 110 destinations within five years of service.

Coming soon
The carrier’s aggressive expansion plans have become a popular topic of discussion within the aviation industry, with Riyadh Air outlining its plans for operations through the end of the decade. Target destinations include Europe, North America, East Asia, Southeast Asia, and major cities across the Persian Gulf. The carrier is set to cover a variety of niche markets and sectors, limiting competition from Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Photo: Riyadh Air

Speaking to Aerotime earlier this week, Douglas noted the continued demand for Saudi Arabia despite limited point-to-point travel options to East Asia, describing the lack of connectivity as “unacceptable” when compared to hubs in Doha (DIA) and Dubai (DBX).

To meet demand, Riyadh Air is set to hire 700 pilots over the next three years to operate its 787s and future narrowbody fleet. Recruitment is currently ongoing through 2023, with the first flight deck crew members set to join the carrier during Q1 in 2024. Riyadh Air is reportedly seeking pilots with backgrounds in 787-9s aircraft, as well as 777 widebody jets.

Other roles, including cabin crew, engineers, and IT, are also currently open, with the airline receiving a flurry of applications for various positions. Once pilot hiring is completed, Riyadh Air will host a roadshow for prospective cabin crew applicants over the next several months, strengthening its potential crew bases in various cities worldwide. Training is set to continue until Riyadh Air’s expected launch in 2025.

Sources: Reuters (1) (2), BloombergAerotime