Skift Take

Riyadh Air is expected to play a key role in driving tourism to and from Saudi Arabia.

New Saudi Arabian carrier Riyadh Air plans to sell package holidays alongside its flight tickets. The government-funded airline is part of Saudi’s attempt to become a global aviation hub, boosting its tourism sector in the process.

“We want to give customers recommendations, we want to package and bundle. We don’t want to only sell tickets, we want to sell experiences,” Osamah Alnuaiser, Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Communications at Riyadh Air told Skift at Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai. “You should be able to go to Riyadh Air and find everything to fulfill your travel needs.”

It’s fairly common for airlines to offer package holidays in some form. Emirates has Emirates Holidays, Qatar Airways has a holidays offshoot too. Even the flag carrier Saudia has packages, primarily for pilgrims visiting holy cities.

What’s Different About Riyadh Air?

Riyadh Air isn’t ‘just’ a new airline. Launching in the middle of 2025, it hopes to fly to more than 100 destinations by the end of the decade. The company expects to cover all major cities, including those in the Americas, adding $20 billion to the kingdom’s economy in the process.

Saudi has a tourism target of 150 million travelers by 2030, combining both international and domestic guests to hit that goal. Tourism chiefs are eyeing around 70 million international visits that same year. 

Alnuaiser added that these packages will “absolutely” include flights, accommodation, experiences and ground accommodation, stating that it will not only be inbound Saudi packages.

“Our primary revenue stream is selling air tickets but it’s an appealing proposition to sell packages. It’ll be both inbound and outbound. We want to engage with different partners, that’s obvious. 2025 is our day one launch, [packages] will be part of that roadmap,” he said.

Teaming With the Saudi Tourism Authority

Elsewhere at ATM, Riyadh Air signed a deal with the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) to increase tourism in the country.

The deal includes the following:

  • Riyadh Air and the STA will jointly announce new routes and destinations to raise global awareness among travelers.
  • Riyadh Air and the STA will promote Saudi Arabia along with any new destinations with an aligned strategy to attract and inform guests.
  • The agreement will see Riyadh Air and the STA engage in sponsorship opportunities and enable both parties to leverage each other’s networks and resources to source and activate with relevant partners.
  • Riyadh Air and the STA will ensure they have a notable presence in key industry trade shows along with major international events.
  • Joint benefits with their respective loyalty programs.
  • Shared payment solutions.

Commenting on the partnership. Riyadh Air CEO Tony Douglas said: “Working alongside the STA to elevate the travel experience for our guests and those coming to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signifies what we’re all about.”

“We are elevating standards across the board in aviation to previously unseen levels.”

Watch Tony Douglas at Skift Global Forum East Here:


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Tags: middle east report, Riyadh Air, saudi airlines, Saudi Tourism

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