Riyadh Air has eyes on the future: Talent, technology, and sustainability

by | Jul 31, 2023 | Airlines, Digital Transformation, Travel Tech

Riyadh Air has eyes on the future: Talent, technology, and sustainability


Having only established itself as an airline in March 2023, Riyadh Air is expected to begin commercial flights as soon as 2025 and connect to over 100 destinations worldwide by 2030. Preparing for launch, the new national airline has been in the news lately with its drive to recruit up to 700 pilots.

Globally, the aviation industry is experiencing crippling staff shortages, a topic explored in more detail in here. One report predicted a global gap of 34,000 pilots by 2025, warning this could be as high as 50,000 in the most extreme scenarios. With shortages catalysed by the pandemic and exacerbated by concerns around industry instability, climate conscience, and more, the industry is in desperate need to attract young, new talent.

Actively working to inspire the next generation of professionals in the Saudi Arabian aviation sector, Riyadh Air recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Prince Sultan University (PSU). The MoU will see the airline build its first simulator centre on the University’s Riyadh campus where future pilots will be trained in readiness to join Riyadh Air following their graduation.

The pair will also collaborate to provide exciting learning opportunities for students aspiring towards career in commercial aviation. These include short-term vocational training programs will be offered for pilots, cabin crew and ground crew in addition to more skill-specific programs across the airline ecosystem, including finance, legal, IT, HR, and project management.

Peter Bellew, COO of Riyadh Air, said:

“We believe that investing in the future of the aviation industry is vital for the joint success and growth of Riyadh Air and the Kingdom. Our collaboration with Prince Sultan University marks another step in Riyadh Air’s efforts to offer unique learning platforms for local youth as they look to choose and develop their careers. This program aims to create more jobs within Saudi Arabia, ensure sustainability, and qualify Saudi youth by launching initiatives that enable them to join the job market and contribute to the growth and competitiveness of the sector.”

Riyadh Air not only has its eyes fixed on the future of talent within the industry, but also on the future of technology and sustainability, describing itself as “the cutting edge of digital aviation.”

Tony Douglas, the airline’s CEO has promised:

“Riyadh Air will be a digitally native airline, driven by a pioneering spirit with an obsessive focus on attention to detail and innovation at its heart. We aim to permanently transcend our guests’ perceptions and experiences of flying in the modern world. […] The new airline comes at a pivotal moment for Saudi Arabia, as it realizes the ambitious goals of Vision 2030. 

Prioritising sustainability, Riyadh Air will have one of the world’s most modern fleets with modern engines and composite airframes making the aircraft up to 25 per cent more fuel efficient than their predecessors. Douglas has also assured that the airline will be working with a variety of technologies to reduce CO2 emissions. Although the specifics have not yet been widely shared, the airline CEO has built high expectations in the field saying, “we like to think in the future, people will look at Riyadh Air as a thought leader when it comes to aviation sustainability.”

Tony Douglas, CEO of Riyadh Air will be joining this year’s World Aviation Festival as a keynote speaker. Douglas will discuss strategy, digital innovation, and curating a seamless travel experience. Get your ticket now to avoid missing out.