Enlarge Boeing 747 Jeddah

Arabic: السعودية
Logo of Saudia.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
FoundedSeptember 1945; 75 years ago (1945-09)
Frequent-flyer programAl Fursan Loyalty
Fleet size200
Parent companyGovernment of Saudi Arabia
HeadquartersJeddah, Saudi Arabia
Key people

Saudia (Arabic: السعوديةas-Suʿūdiyyah), also known as Saudi Arabian Airlines (الخطوط الجوية العربية السعودية), is the national carrier[2] airline of Saudi Arabia, based in Jeddah.[3] The airline's main operational base is at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh and King Fahd International Airport in Dammam are secondary hubs. The airline is the third largest in the Middle East in terms of revenue, behind Emirates and Qatar Airways.[4] It operates domestic and international scheduled flights to over 85 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 in 1969
Saudi Arabian Airlines Lockheed L-1011 TriStar in 1987
A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747SP in 1989
A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 737-200 in 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[5] as a fully owned government agency under the control of the Ministry of Defense, with TWA (Trans World Airlines) running the airline under a management contract.

The now-demolished Kandara Airport, which was close to Jeddah, served as the flag carrier's main base. Among the airline's early operations was a special flight from Lydda (Lod) in Palestine (today 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.[citation needed]

In 1962, the airline took delivery of two Boeing 720s, becoming the fourth Middle Eastern airline to fly jet aircraft, after Middle East Airlines and Cyprus Airways with the de Havilland Comet in 1960 and El Al with the Boeing 707 in 1961.[6] 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 airline operated their first Boeing 747s service in 1977 when three Jumbo Jets were leased from Middle East Airlines and deployed on the London sector. 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.[citation needed]

In the 1980s services such as Saudia Catering began. Flights were started to Jakarta, 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 1 July 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 Aviation 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.[7]

In 2006, Saudia began the process of dividing itself into Strategic Business Units (SBU); the catering unit was the first to be privatized.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11]

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 serves domestic and regional destinations, began flights in mid-2017.[12]


World’s Most Improved Airline' in 2017 by SkyTrax


Saudia sponsored the Williams Formula One team from 1977 till 1984. In this period Williams would win two Constructors Championships and two Drivers Championships with Alan Jones and Keke Rosberg.

Saudia was main sponsor of the 2018 and 2019 Diriyah ePrix


Codeshare agreements

Saudia has codeshare agreements with SkyTeam partners and with the following airlines:[13]


Current fleet

Saudia Cargo Boeing 747-8F

As of September 2020, the Saudia fleet consists of the following aircraft including its passenger and cargo fleet:[19][20]

Saudia Fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
F J Y Total
Airbus A320-200 46 12 120 132
132 144
20 90 110
Airbus A321-200 15 20 145 165
Airbus A320neo 30[21] TBA Order with 35 options.[21]
Airbus A321neo 5 TBA
Airbus A321LR 15 TBA
Airbus A321XLR 15[22] TBA
Airbus A330-300 32 36 262 298
252 288
30 300 330
Boeing 777-300ER 35 12 36 242 290
24 245 305
30 351 381
383 413
413 443
12 393 405
Boeing 787-9 13 24 274 298 [23]
Boeing 787-10 4 6 24 333 357[24] [25]
Saudia Cargo Fleet
Boeing 747-400BDSF 2
Operated by Air ACT.[26]
Boeing 747-400ERF 1
Boeing 747-400F 1
Boeing 747-8F 2
Boeing 777F 4
Saudia Albayraq Fleet
Airbus A319-100 3 48 48 Operates between Jeddah and Riyadh[27]
Total 158 71

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:[28]

Fleet history
Aircraft Total Introduced Retired Notes
Airbus A300-600 11 1984 2012
Airbus A310-300F 1 2010 2013
Airbus A319-100 2 2007 2017 Leased from Czech Airlines
Airbus A340-300 4 1999 2014
Boeing 707-320 Unknown 1968 1997
Boeing 727-100 1 1976 2000s Operated for Saudi Arabian Royal Flight
Boeing 737-200 26 1972 2007
Boeing 747-100B 19 1981 2010
Boeing 747-200 33 1979 2012
Boeing 747-200F 7 1981 2012
Boeing 747-300 19 1983 2013 Eighth aircraft stored.
1st aircraft used as VIP/Government transport.
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 6 2012 2012
Boeing 777-200ER 10 1990s 2019
Convair 340 Unknown 1960s 1970s
Embraer ERJ-170 15 2005 2016 All aircraft stored
Fokker F28 Unknown 1977 1990s
Lockheed L1011 Tristar 24 1977 1998
Lockheed L1011 Tristar 500 2 1970s Unknown Operated for Saudi Arabian Royal Flight
McDonnell Douglas DC-8 series 37 1977 1998
McDonnell Douglas DC-9 3 1967 1972
McDonnell Douglas DC-10 1 1975 1990s
McDonnell Douglas MD-11F 4 1998 2014 All aircraft stored
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 2 1998 2013 Operated for Saudi Arabian Royal Flight
McDonnell Douglas MD-90 29 1998 2013 Two aircraft stored

Other aircraft

Saudi Royal Flight Airbus A340-200 that is the lone exception to Royal Flight aircraft in Saudia livery at JFK Airport, 2017.
Saudi Royal Flight Boeing 747-400 parked at JFK Airport, 2018. The above A340-200 is parked behind it.

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

Saudia Special Flight Service Fleet
Aircraft Total Order Notes
Beechcraft Bonanza 6 Used for flight training
Dassault Falcon 900 2 Used for government transport
Dassault Falcon 7X 4 Used for charter transport
Gulfstream IV 6 Used for government transport
Hawker 400XP 6 Used for government transport

Additionally Saudia Royal Flight division operates larger aircraft of government and the royal family under Saudia flight code and colour scheme (except for a single aircraft), these include

Saudia Royal Flight Division Fleet
Aircraft Total Order Notes
Airbus A340-200X 1
1 Not in Saudia livery
Boeing 747-300 1
Boeing 747-400 1
Boeing 747SP 1
Boeing 757-200 1 Used for flying hospital
Boeing 777-300ER 2

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. Since 2017 two mobile escalators (TEC Hünert MFT 500-01[29]) travel with the King and transported by separate aircraft.[30]

In-flight services

The inflight magazine of Saudia is called Ahlan Wasahlan (أهلاً وسهلاً "Hello and Welcome"). No alcoholic beverages[31] 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. Most aircraft also offer onboard specialized prayer areas and a recorded prayer is played prior to takeoff.[32]

Incidents and accidents

See also


  1. ^ "Saudi Airlines entrusts Sami Sindi with the duties of the General Manager". News1. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  2. ^ Hofmann, Kurt (20 January 2017). "Saudia outlines 2017 fleet delivery plan". Air Transport World. Archived from the original on 21 January 2017. Saudi Arabia's national carrier Saudia will take delivery of 30 aircraft this year, according to a Jan. 17 statement.
  3. ^ "Saudi Arabian Airlines Ground Services Company: Private Company Information". Businessweek. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
  4. ^ Reed Business Information Limited. "Airline Business top 100 airlines rankings – Middle East". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Economy and Infrastructure" (PDF). Saudi Embassy. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  6. ^ "Commercial Aviation". Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  7. ^ "Embraer wins $400m Saudi jet deal". BBC News. 28 March 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  8. ^ "Saudi Air Lauches [sic] Privatization With Catering Unit". Retrieved 14 September 2007.
  9. ^ "Saudi cabinet okays Saudi Arabian Airlines privatisation". Retrieved 14 September 2007.
  10. ^ "Arabian Aerospace – Saudia plays the name game, joins the alliance and gets privatisation rolling". Arabian Aerospace. 29 May 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Our Fleet". Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  12. ^ Hanware, Khalil (19 April 2016). "Flyadeal's launch puts Saudia at higher altitude". Arab News. Jeddah. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  13. ^ "Profile on Saudia". CAPA. Centre for Aviation. Archived from the original on 31 October 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
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  15. ^ "Etihad / Saudia plans codeshare partnership from late-Oct 2018". Routesonline. 9 October 2018.
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  19. ^ "OUR FLEET". 26 Saudia.
  20. ^ "SAUDIA Fleet". 20 October 2018. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  21. ^ a b Kaminski-Morrow2019-06-18T10:20:00+01:00, David. "PARIS: Saudia takes A321XLR as part of extra Airbus deal". Flight Global.
  22. ^ "Saudi Arabian Airlines to boost A320neo Family fleet up to 100". Airbus.
  23. ^ "Boeing 787 Orders and Deliveries Report". Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  24. ^ "Saudia temporary files Boeing 787-10 service in S20". Routesonline. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
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  36. ^ "HZ-AAK Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  37. ^ Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
  38. ^ "Accident Database: Accident Synopsis 12231980". Air Disaster. 23 December 1980. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  39. ^ Hijacking description at the Aviation Safety Network
  40. ^ Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
  41. ^ Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
  42. ^ "Saudi hijack passengers freed". BBC World. 14 October 2000. Retrieved 25 December 2010.
  43. ^ "Hijacked Saudi plane returns safely to Riyadh". Saudi Embassy. 16 September 2000. Retrieved 25 December 2010.
  44. ^ "Saudi Hijacker Extradited". USA Today. 18 November 2003. Retrieved 25 December 2010.
  45. ^ Hijacking description at the Aviation Safety Network
  46. ^ "Accident information: Boeing 747 Saudi Arabian Airlines HZ-AIO". Airfleets. Retrieved 27 September 2010.
  47. ^ Hull-loss description at the Aviation Safety Network
  48. ^ "Bomb hoax triggers panic at Sri Lanka airport Archived 11 June 2008 at the Wayback Machine," Asian Political News. 12 September 2005
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  50. ^ a b Hull-loss description at the Aviation Safety Network
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  53. ^ "Saudi Plane Makes Emergency Landing, 29 Hurt". Gulf Business. Reuters. 5 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014.
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