IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1945 (1945)
Frequent-flyer program Al Fursan Loyalty
Alliance SkyTeam
Subsidiaries Flyadeal
Fleet size 176
Destinations 127[1]
Company slogan Welcome to your world!
Parent company Saudi Arabian government
Headquarters Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Key people

Saudia (Arabic: السعودية as-Suʿūdiyyah), also known as Saudi Arabian Airlines (الخطوط الجوية العربية السعودية), is the flag carrier airline of Saudi Arabia, based in Jeddah.[2] The airline's main operational base is at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED). Riyadh-King Khalid International Airport (RUH) and Dammam-King Fahd International Airport (DMM) are secondary hubs. The new Dammam airport was opened for commercial use on 28 November 1999. Dhahran International Airport in use until then, has reverted to being used as a military base. The airline is the third largest in the Middle East in terms of revenue, behind Emirates and Qatar Airways.[3] It operates domestic and international scheduled flights to over 120 destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. Domestic and international charter flights are operated, mostly during the Ramadan and the Hajj season. Saudia is a member of the Arab Air Carriers Organization and joined the SkyTeam airline alliance on 29 May 2012.


Early years

Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 707 at London Heathrow Airport in 1969
A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747SP lands at Stuttgart Airport, Germany. (1989)
A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 737-200 at Bahrain International Airport. (1995)

When U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt presented a Douglas DC-3 as a gift to King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud in 1945, the event marked the Kingdom's gradual development of civil aviation. The nation's flag carrier, Saudia, was founded as Saudi Arabian Airlines in September 1945[4] as a fully owned government agency under the control of the Ministry of Defense, with TWA running the airline under a management contract.

From the beginning until the end, Jeddah-Kandara airport—very near the town center-served as the flag carrier's main base. Among the airline's early operations was a special flight from Lydda in Palestine (today Lod in Israel, site of Ben-Gurion International Airport), a British Mandate at that time, to carry Hajj pilgrims to Jeddah. The airline used five DC-3 aircraft to launch scheduled operations on the Jeddah-Riyadh-Hofuf-Dhahran route in March 1947, followed by its first international service between Jeddah and Cairo in the same month. Service to Damascus and Beirut followed in early 1948. The following year the first of five Bristol 170s was received. These aircraft offered the airline the flexibility of carrying both passengers and cargo.

The slow but steady growth continued during the 1950s and services were inaugurated to Istanbul, Karachi, Amman, Kuwait City, Asmara, and Port Sudan. The fleet grew during the 1950s, with five DC-4s and ten Convair 340s, the airline's first pressurized aircraft. In 1959, the airline's first maintenance center was inaugurated in Jeddah.

In 1962, the airline took delivery of two Boeing 720s, becoming the third Middle Eastern airline to fly jet aircraft, after Cyprus Airways with the de Havilland Comet in 1960 and El Al with the Boeing 707 in 1961.[5] On 19 February 1963, the airline became a registered company, with King Faisal of Saudi Arabia signing the papers that declared Saudia a fully independent company. DC-6s and Boeing 707s were later bought, and the airline joined the AACO, the Arab Air Carriers Organization. Services were started to Sharjah, Tehran, Khartoum, Mumbai, Tripoli, Tunis, Rabat, Geneva, Frankfurt, and London.

In the 1970s, a new livery was introduced. The carrier's name was changed to Saudia on 1 April 1972. Boeing 737s and Fokker F-28s were bought, with the 737s replacing the Douglas DC-9. The first all-cargo flights between Saudi Arabia and Europe were started, and Lockheed L-1011s and Fairchild FH-27s were introduced. New services, including the Arabian Express 'no reservation shuttle flights' between Jeddah and Riyadh. The Special Flight Services (SFS) was set up as a special unit of Saudia, and operates special flights for the Royal family and government agencies. Service was also started to Rome, Paris, Muscat, Kano, and Stockholm. The Pan Am/Saudia joint service between Dhahran and New York City started on 3 February 1979.

In the 1980s services such as Saudia Catering began. Flights were started to Athens, Bangkok, Dhaka, Mogadishu, Nairobi, New York City, Madrid, Singapore, Manila, Delhi, Islamabad, Seoul, Baghdad, Amsterdam, Colombo, Nice, Lahore, Brussels, Dakar, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei. Horizon Class, a business class service, was established to offer enhanced service. Cargo hubs were built at Brussels and Taipei. Airbus A300s, Boeing 747s, and Cessna Citations were also added to the fleet, the Citations for the SFS service. In 1989 services to Larnaca and Addis Ababa began. On July 1, 1982, the first nonstop service from Jeddah to New York City was initiated with Boeing 747SP aircraft. This was followed by a Riyadh-New York route.

In the 1990s, services to Orlando, Chennai, Asmara, Washington, D.C., Johannesburg, Alexandria, Milan, Málaga (seasonal), and Sanaa (resumption) were introduced. Boeing 777s, MD-90s and MD-11s were introduced. New female flight attendant uniforms designed by Adnan Akbar were introduced. A new corporate identity was launched on 16 July 1996, featuring a sand colored fuselage with contrasting dark blue tailfin, the center of which featured a stylized representation of the House of Saud crest. The Saudia name was dropped in the identity revamp, with Saudi Arabian Airlines name used.

Development since the 2000s

On 8 October 2000, Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Saudi Minister of Defense and Aviation, signed a contract to conduct studies for the privatization of Saudi Arabian Airlines. In preparation for this, the airline was restructured to allow non-core units—including Saudia catering, ground handling services and maintenance as well as the Prince Sultan Flight Academy in Jeddah—to be transformed into commercial units and profit centers. In April 2005, the Saudi government indicated that the airline may also lose its monopoly on domestic services.[6]

Saudi Arabian Airlines achieved operational profits in 2002, which doubled in 2003, but the profits were primarily due to over one billion riyals on deferred income amortised annually in the income statement, courtesy of the 70 aircraft gifted to the airline by the Saudi government. In 2004, the airline carried over 15 million passengers and recorded a 14% rise in profits. In April the following year the airline ordered 15 Embraer E-170LR aircraft in a deal worth $400 million.

In 2006, Saudia began the process of dividing itself into Strategic Business Units (SBU); the catering unit was the first to be privatized.[7] In August 2007, Saudi Arabia's Council of Ministers approved the conversion of strategic units into companies. It is planned that ground services, technical services, air cargo and the Prince Sultan Aviation Academy, medical division, as well as the catering unit, will become subsidiaries of a holding company.[8]

The airline reverted to its abbreviated English brand name Saudia (used from 1972 to 1996) from Saudi Arabian Airlines (historic name in use until 1971 and reintroduced in 1997) on 29 May 2012; the name was changed to celebrate the company's entry into the SkyTeam airline alliance on that day, and it was a part of a larger rebranding initiative.[9]

Saudia received 64 new jets by the end of 2012 (6 from Boeing and 58 from Airbus). Another 8 Boeing 787-9 aircraft started to join the fleet in 2015.[10]

In April 2016, Saudia announced the creation of a low-cost subsidiary, Flyadeal. The airline was launched as part of Saudia Group's SV2020 Transformation Strategy, which intends to transform the group's units into world-class organisations by 2020. Flyadeal will serve domestic and regional destinations, beginning flights in mid-2017.[11]


Main article: Saudia destinations
Platform view of a Saudia Boeing 777-200ER depating London Heathrow Airport in 2008

Codeshare Agreements

Saudia has codeshare agreements with the following airlines:[12]


Current fleet

Saudia Boeing 777-300ER taxiing at New York JFK in "Famous Landmarks" special livery
Saudia's first Boeing 787-9, taxiing at Manchester, prior to take-off.
Saudia Cargo Boeing 747-8F

As of December 2016, the Saudia fleet consists of the following aircraft including its passenger, cargo and government fleet:[13][14]

Saudia Fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
F J Y Total
Airbus A319-100 2 135 135 Leased from PrivatAir
Airbus A320-200 35 4 12 120 132 HZ-ASF in Skyteam Livery
20 96 116
Airbus A321-200 15 20 145 165
Airbus A330-200 6 NYA Leased from Onur Air
1 NYA Leased from Air Atlanta Icelandic
Airbus A330-300 12 36 262 298 HZ-AQL in Skyteam Livery, HZ-AQE in Saudi National Day Livery
36 252 288
8 15[15] 30 300 330 Launch operator of A330 Regional
Boeing 747-400 1 26 451 477 Leased from Wamos Air
6 NYA Leased from Air Atlanta Icelandic
2 Leased from Eaglexpress
Boeing 777-200ER 23 24 38 170 232 HZ-AKA in Skyteam Livery

To be retired starting 2017[16]

14 327 341
Boeing 777-300ER 27 3 12 36 242 290[17] HZ-AK28 in Famous Saudi Arabian Landmarks special livery.
24 36 245 305
30 351 381
30 383 413
Boeing 787-9 4 4 24 274 298
Embraer ERJ-170 15 6 60 66
Saudia Cargo Fleet
Boeing 747-400BDSF 6
Operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic and MyCargo Airlines.[18]
Boeing 747-400F 2
Each Operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic and MyCargo Airlines
Boeing 747-400ERF 2
Operated by MyCargo Airlines.[18]
Boeing 747-8F 2
Boeing 777F 4
Saudia Albayraq
Airbus A319-100 3 48 48 Operates between Jeddah and Riyadh [19]
Total 176 26

Historic fleet

Saudia Convair 340 in 1959
Saudia Lockheed L-1011 in 1985
Saudia Airbus A300-600R in 2010

Saudia formerly operated the following aircraft:[20]

Fleet history
Aircraft Total Introduced Retired
Airbus A300-600 11 1984 2012
Airbus A310-300F 1 2010 2013
Airbus A319-100 1 2007 2008
Airbus A340-300 4 1999 2014
Boeing 707-320 ?? 196? ????
Boeing 727-100 (VIP) 1 1976 200?
Boeing 737-200 26 1972 2007
Boeing 747-100 19 1981 2010
Boeing 747-200 33 1979 2012
Boeing 747-200F ?? 19?? 2012
Boeing 747-300 18 1985 2013
Boeing 747-300SF 1 2014 2015
Boeing 747-400 14 1997 2016
Boeing 747SP 2 1981 1992
Boeing 757-200 10 2008 2011
Boeing 767-200ER 5 2003 2012
Boeing 767-300ER 5 2012 2012
Convair 340 ?? 19?? 19??
Fokker F28 ?? 1977 19??
Lockheed L1011 Tristar 24 1977 1998
Lockheed L1011 Tristar 500 (VIP) 2 19?? ????
McDonnell Douglas DC-8-62/63F/72 37 1977 1998
McDonnell Douglas DC-9 3 1967 1972
McDonnell Douglas DC-10 1 1975 19??
McDonnell Douglas MD-11F 4 1998 2014
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 (VIP) 2 1998 2013
McDonnell Douglas MD-90 29 1998 2013

Other aircraft

A Saudi Arabian Airlines Gulfstream IV at Edinburgh Airport, Scotland. (2009)

Saudia Special Flight Services, VIP flights, and Private Aviation operate the following, a number of which sport the airline's livery

Some military C-130s are also painted with the Saudia colors and are flown by Royal Saudi Air Force crews to support Saudi official activities in the region and Europe.

In-flight services

The inflight magazine of Saudia is called Ahlan Wasahlan (Arabic: أهلاً وسهلاً "Hello and Welcome"). No alcoholic beverages or pork are served on board in accordance with Islamic dietary laws. Its selected Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft are equipped with Wi-Fi and mobile network portability on board. Some aircraft also offer onboard specialized prayer areas.[21]

Incidents and accidents

See also


  1. Network Map Saudia. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  2. "Saudi Arabian Airlines Ground Services Company: Private Company Information". Businessweek. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  3. Reed Business Information Limited. "Airline Business top 100 airlines rankings - Middle East". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  4. "Economy and Infrastructure" (PDF). Saudi Embassy. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  5. Commercial Aviation
  6. "Embraer wins $400m Saudi jet deal". BBC News. 28 March 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  7. "Saudi Air Lauches [sic] Privatization With Catering Unit". Retrieved 14 September 2007.
  8. "Saudi cabinet okays Saudi Arabian Airlines privatisation". Retrieved 14 September 2007.
  9. "Arabian Aerospace - Saudia plays the name game, joins the alliance and gets privatisation rolling". Arabian Aerospace. 29 May 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  10. "Our Fleet". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  11. Hanware, Khalil (19 April 2016). "Flyadeal's launch puts Saudia at higher altitude". Arab News. Jeddah. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  12. "Profile on Saudia". CAPA. Centre for Aviation. Archived from the original on 2016-10-31. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  13. "Saudia Fleet". 17 October 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  14. "SAUDIA Fleet". 5 December 2016. Retrieved 5 Dêcmber 2016. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  15. "SAUDIA A330 Orders". 20 August 2016. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  16. "Saudia to retire B777-200 fleet by the end of 2017". ch-aviation. Retrieved 2016-10-10.
  17. - Saudia updates new 3-class 777-300ER operations in W16
  18. 1 2 "Saudia to wet-lease two more B747-400 freighters". ch-aviation. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  19. "SAUDIA Albayraq". Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  20. Saudi Arabian Airlines Fleet Details and History Plane Spotters. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  21. "Mobile & WiFi". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  22. "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network.
  23. "HZ-AAE Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  24. "Hijacking description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 20 October 2010.
  25. "HZ-AAK Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  26. "Accident Database: Accident Synopsis 12231980". Air Disaster. 23 December 1980. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  27. Hijacking description at the Aviation Safety Network
  28. "Saudi hijack passengers freed". BBC World. 14 October 2000. Retrieved December 25, 2010.
  29. "Hijacked Saudi plane returns safely to Riyadh". Saudi Embassy. 2000-09-16. Retrieved December 25, 2010.
  30. "Saudi Hijacker Extradited". USA Today. 18 November 2003. Retrieved December 25, 2010.
  31. Hijacking description at the Aviation Safety Network
  32. "Accident information: Boeing 747 Saudi Arabian Airlines HZ-AIO". Airfleets. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  33. "Bomb hoax triggers panic at Sri Lanka airport," Asian Political News. 12 September 2005
  34. "Final report: Accident of Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight SV-781, Boeing 747-368, Registration HZ-AIP, oN 08 September 2005 at Bandaranaike International Airport, Katunayake – Sri Lanka" (Archive) Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka. p. 11. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
  35. 1 2 "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 747-357 TF-ARS Dhaka-Zia International Airport (DAC)". Aircraft Safety Network. Retrieved 24 January 2010.
  36. "Saudi plane catches fire at ZIA". The Daily Star. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2011.
  37. "Plane Crash Lands in Saudi Holy City". The Wall Street Journal.
  38. "Saudi Plane Makes Emergency Landing, 29 Hurt". Gulf Business. Reuters. 5 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
  39. "Saudia plane overshoots NAIA runway (MNL)". ABS CBN News. Retrieved 5 August 2014.

External links

Media related to Saudi Arabian Airlines at Wikimedia Commons

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