Boeing announced on Tuesday that it had reached agreements with Riyadh Air and Saudia to purchase 78 Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes.
The purpose of the purchase is to support Saudi Arabia’s expanding aviation plans.
The order has options that could increase the number of planes purchased to as many as 121, making it the fifth largest in Boeing’s history in terms of commercial value.
According to Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States, these contracts are part of “a blueprint for economic and social reform that is opening Saudi Arabia up to the world.”
Although Boeing did not disclose the total value of the order, the White House reported that it could reach $37 billion.
“We are particularly pleased that Boeing was able to finally conclude these deals with Saudi Arabia after years of discussions,” said White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre.
“This partnership is another milestone in eight decades of cooperation between Saudi Arabia and American industry.”
According to Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun, the recent order for 78 Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes demonstrates the high demand for widebody airplanes worldwide as tourism continues to rebound.
This is the latest in a series of large 787 orders.
Calhoun stated that the production schedule includes all customers, including Riyadh Air, and the company has the confidence to meet the schedule, which was a crucial aspect of the agreement.
Riyadh Air, owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has committed to acquiring 39 Dreamliners, with an option for another 33 jets.
National carrier Saudia will purchase 39 Dreamliners, with options for 10 more.
As per the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the new airline, Riyadh Air, aims to launch flights to over 100 destinations worldwide by 2030.
The Gulf kingdom is pursuing ambitious aviation objectives as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s extensive “Vision 2030” reform agenda, including increasing annual traffic to 330 million passengers by the end of the decade, more than triple the current rate.
The kingdom also aims to transport up to five million tonnes of cargo each year.
In November of last year, officials announced plans for a new airport in the capital Riyadh, covering 57 square kilometres and set to accommodate 120 million travellers per year by 2030 and 185 million travellers by 2050.
The capacity of the current Riyadh airport is around 35 million travellers.
Saudi transport minister Saleh Al-Jasser
According to Saudi transport minister Saleh Al-Jasser’s Twitter, the new airline is the most recent addition to “a huge package of projects” that will strengthen Saudi Arabia’s position as a global logistics hub and an international aviation center.
SPA reported that Tony Douglas, the former head of Etihad Airways based in Abu Dhabi, has been appointed as the CEO of the new airline.
Although Sunday’s announcement disclosed that Riyadh Air would operate a fleet of advanced aircraft, it did not specify the fleet’s size or its origin.
The national carrier Saudia, headquartered in Jeddah, is currently located at the kingdom’s busiest international airport, situated on the Red Sea coast.
Jeddah, known as the “Gateway to Makkah,” welcomes millions of Muslims who perform the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages each year.
Officials in recent years have attempted to establish Riyadh, located in central Saudi Arabia, as a rival to Dubai, a business hub.