Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

Saudi Arabia’s National Carrier Signs Agreement to Buy 100 Lilium Air Taxis

3 months ago

Saudi Arabia’s national flag carrier Saudia announced on Wednesday that it has signed an agreement with German air taxi startup Lilium to purchase 100 jets.

With this purchase Saudia intends to launch new electric point-to-point connections as well as seamless feeder connections to Saudia’s hubs for business class guests, the airline said in a release.

Saudia also expects to support Lilium with the necessary regulatory approval processes in Saudi Arabia for certification of the Lilium jet.

With this Saudia will be the first airline in the Middle East and North Africa region to develop the all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) network in the region. The agreement will also help Lilium gain a foothold in the region.

The agreement with Lilium will contribute effectively to spurring sustainable tourism in Saudi using zero-emission aviation, said Ibrahim S Koshy, CEO of Saudia.

“Saudia intends to meet a growing demand for regional air mobility and offer guests a superior on-board experience. The potential for such an airborne transit network is limitless,” Koshy said.

While no timeline has been mentioned for the Saudia order, Lilium’s air taxi is scheduled to enter service in 2025, with production beginning as early as next year.

With orders worth approximately $2 billion, Lilium has already signed deals with Brazilian airline Azul, private jet company NetJets, as well as private jet company Globeair.

Airlines

Saudi Arabia’s New Airline Will be Called RIA — Reports

5 months ago

Saudi Arabia’s government plans to call its new multi-billion-dollar international airline RIA, according to reports.

The plan is for it to be a premium global superconnector, like Emirates, Qatar and Etihad, as the kingdom continues its ambitious Vision 2030 tourism plan.

It wants to increase the number of air routes from about 100 to 250.

RIA will become Saudi’s second national carrier, based out of Riyadh, with Saudia, which operates from Jeddah, focusing on religious traffic bringing pilgrims to the country’s holy sites, especially during the Hajj pilgrimage.

Budget carriers Flynas and Flyadeal would then concentrate on low-cost domestic and regional travel and near-international routes. It remains unclear if any of the three existing airlines would feed traffic to the new airline.

The kingdom has been working on the launch for the past 12 months, with the new venture backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the report added.

Saudi Arabia is also making it easier for millions of tourists to enter the kingdom by streamlining and relaxing its visa options for residents from multiple countries. Overall the country wants to target 30 million international transit passengers by 2030, compared to under 4 million currently.

Europe’s Wizz Air will also land in Saudi Arabia this December.

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