Saudia airline being repositioned for kingdom’s tourism push

The PIF has started talks to acquire Jeddah-based Saudia as Riyadh Air gets ready to fly

Illustration of a plane taking off in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Getty Images)

As Saudi Arabia’s new Riyadh Air prepares to start flying next year, the kingdom’s venerable carrier Saudia is being repositioned to fit into a new blueprint for boosting business and tourism.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund has started talks to acquire Jeddah-based Saudia, which flies to 90 destinations, in a step that may lead to the airline’s privatization, Bloomberg reports.

The two airlines will work in tandem to pursue the kingdom’s twin goals of bolstering access to Saudi Arabia as a regional finance hub while also turning it into a magnet for foreign tourists.

Under the plan, Riyadh Air pursues the business crowd and Saudia will focus more on the market for religious pilgrimages to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.