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IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1945 (1945)
Frequent-flyer program Al-Fursan
Alliance SkyTeam
Fleet size 167
Destinations 126[1]
Company slogan Welcome to your world
Parent company Saudi Arabian government
Headquarters Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Key people

Saudi Arabian Airlines (الخطوط الجوية العربية السعودية) operating as Saudia (Arabic: السعوديةas-Saʿūdiyyah) is the flag carrier airline of Saudi Arabia, based in Jeddah.[2] 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.[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.

The airline's main operational base is at Jeddah-King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED). Other major hubs are Riyadh-King Khalid International Airport (RUH), and Dammam-King Fahd International Airport (DMM). 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.

Saudia is a member of the SkyTeam airline alliance on 29 May 2012. The airline is the third largest in the Middle East in terms of revenue, behind Emirates and Qatar Airways.[4]


  • History 1
  • Profits 2
  • Privatization 3
  • Destinations 4
    • Codeshare and alliance 4.1
  • Fleet 5
    • Former fleet 5.1
    • Introduction of new aircraft 5.2
    • Other aircraft 5.3
  • In-flight services 6
  • Incidents and accidents 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10


A Convair 340 of the airline at Dhahran Airport in 1959
Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 707 at London Heathrow Airport in 1969
A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747SP lands at Stuttgart Airport, Germany. (1989)

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 running the airline under a management contract.

From the beginning, 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 also in that same month. Service to Damascus and Beirut followed in early 1948. The following year saw the first of five Bristol 170s being received. These aircraft offered the airline the flexibility of carrying both passengers and cargo.

A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 737-200 at Bahrain International Airport. (1995)
A Saudi Arabian Airlines Lockheed L-1011 landing at London Heathrow Airport, United Kingdom. (1985)
A Saudi Arabian Airlines Airbus A300 departs Istanbul, Turkey. (2010)
A Saudi Arabian Airlines Airbus A330 at Paris, France. (2011)

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 also saw a small growth during the 1950s, with five DC-4s and ten Convair 340s, the first pressurized aircraft for the airline. In 1959, the airline's first maintenance center was inaugurated in Jeddah. Also during this decade, the very important air link between Jeddah and Riyadh saw improvement.

In 1962, the airline took delivery of two Sharjah, Tehran, Khartoum, Bombay, 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 737 and Fokker F-28 equipment was 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.

Some services opened during the 1980s for the airline, such as Saudia Catering. 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 to passengers. 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. To conclude the decade, services were introduced in 1989 to Larnaca and Addis Ababa. On July 1, 1982, the first nonstop service was inaugurated from Jeddah to New York with the airline's Boeing 747SP aircraft. This service, along with the Riyadh-New York service introduced later.

Saudi Arabian Airlines aircraft at Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport, Saudi Arabia.

In the 1990s, services were introduced to Orlando, Chennai, Asmara, Washington, D.C., Johannesburg, Alexandria, Milan, Málaga (seasonal), and Sanaa (resumption). 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.

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.[7]


Saudi Arabian Airlines did achieve 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.[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]


A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747-300 taxiing at Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore. (2007)
Countries with destinations of Saudia (including seasonal and future destinations).
  Saudi Arabia
  Saudia Destinations

Codeshare and alliance

Saudia has codeshare agreements with the following airlines (as of June 2013):


A Saudi Arabian Airlines Airbus A320 at Geneva International Airport. (2012)
A Saudi Arabian Airlines McDonnell-Douglas MD-90 landing at Geneva Cointrin Airport, Switzerland
A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 777-200ER landing in Zurich-Kloten Airport, Switzerland
A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747-400 during takeoff from Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan

Former fleet

Saudia formerly operated the following aircraft:[11]

Introduction of new aircraft

Saudia received 64 new airplanes by the end of 2012, 6 Boeing airplanes and 58 Airbus airplanes. So far, the airline has 7 777-300ERs, 35 A320-200s, 15 A321-200s and 8 A330-300s. Another 8 Boeing 787-9 aircraft will join the fleet of Saudia in 2015.[12]

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 airlines 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 Airbus A330-300 fleet and a select Boeing 777-300 aircraft are equipped with Wi-Fi and mobile network portability on board. Some aircraft also offer onboard specialized prayer areas.[13]

Incidents and accidents

  • On 25 September 1959, a Saudia Douglas DC-4 HZ-AAF crashed shortly after take-off from Jeddah. The cause of the accident was pilot error followed by a stall. All 67 passengers and 5 crew survived.[14]
  • On 9 February 1968, a Douglas C-47 (Registration HZ-AAE) was damaged beyond economic repair at an unknown location.[15]
  • On 11 July 1972, a Douglas C-47B (Registration HZ-AAK) was damaged beyond economic repair in an accident at Tabuk Airport.[17]
  • On 19 August 1980, Saudia Flight 163, a Lockheed L-1011-200 TriStar, operating Karachi-Riyadh-Jeddah, was completely destroyed by fire at Riyadh airport with the loss of all 301 people on board due to delays in evacuating the aircraft. This was the deadliest accident experienced by Saudia until 312 were killed in the loss of Flight 763 over 16 years later.
  • On 22 December 1980, Saudia Flight 162, a Lockheed L-1011-200 TriStar, operating Dhahran to Karachi, experienced an explosive decompression, penetrating the passenger cabin. The hole sucked out two passengers and depressurized the cabin.[18]
  • On 23 August 2001, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia,a Boeing 747-300 (Registration HZ-AIO) suffered nose damage as it entered a monsoon drainage ditch while it was being taxied by Maintenance staff from the hangar to the gate before a return flight to Saudi Arabia. None of the six crew members on board at the time were injured.[19]
  • On 8 September 2005, a Boeing 747 traveling from Colombo to Jeddah, carrying mostly Sri Lankan nationals to take up employment in the Kingdom, received a false alarm claiming that a bomb had been planted on board. The aircraft returned to Colombo. During the evacuation, there was a passenger stampede in the wake of which one Sri Lankan woman died, 62 were injured, and 17 were hospitalized. The aircraft had taken on a load of 420 passengers in Colombo.[20] According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka, the probable cause was a "Breakdown of timely and effective communication amongst Aerodrome Controller and Ground Handling (SriLankan Airlines) personnel had prevented a timely dispatch of the stepladders to the aircraft to deplane the passengers in a timely manner, which resulted in the Pilot-In-Command to order an emergency evacuation of the passengers through slides after being alarmed by the bomb threat."[21]
  • On 25 May 2008, a leased aircraft operating under Saudi Arabian Airlines as Flight SV-806 from Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz Airport, Madinah made an unscheduled landing at Zia International Airport (now Shahjalal International Airport), Dhaka. During the roll the tower controller reported that he saw a fire on the right hand wing. Upon vacating the runway, the crew received a fire indication for engine number three. The fire extinguisher was activated and all engines were shut down. The aircraft, a Boeing 747-357, which was damaged beyond repair, was successfully evacuated.[22] Only minor injuries were incurred.[23] Investigations revealed a fuel leak where the fuel enters the front spar for engine number three.[22]
  • On 5 August 2014, a Boeing 747-400 (reg. HZ-AIX) operating as flight 871 from Manila to Riyadh veered off the runway 24 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila while positioning for takeoff. No one on the plane or on ground were injured.[26]

See also


  1. ^ Network Map Saudia. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Commercial Aviation
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c d
  11. ^ Saudi Arabian Airlines Fleet Details and History Plane Spotters. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Bomb hoax triggers panic at Sri Lanka airport," Asian Political News. 12 September 2005
  21. ^ "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.
  22. ^ a b
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^

External links

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

  • Official website
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines: The Jewel of the Middle East, Boeing
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