According to Arabian Business, Tony Douglas from Etihad has been asked to serve as the new CEO of Saudi Arabia’s international airline, RIA.
Douglas, who has been in charge of Etihad since January 2018, is RIA’s “first choice,” according to insiders in the industry. The Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, which is investing $30 billion in the new airline, is rumored to be confident in landing Douglas to lead the new enterprise.
According to information published last week in Arabian Business, RIA will be based in Riyadh and will eventually aim to compete as a major international airline with Emirates and Qatar Airways. The current national carrier Saudia operates out of Jeddah as part of the Saudis’ dual-hub policy.
Between 2013 to 2015, Douglas served as the CEO of Abu Dhabi Ports Company. He has also held executive positions with airport management company BAA. He has about 20 years of expertise in the government, infrastructure, and transportation industries.
The brand-new airline will debut in the fourth quarter of this year. According to sources, the first phase will involve a regional takeoff using Boeing 737Max and Airbus A320 aircraft.
The $100 billion investment in aviation as part of the nation’s Vision 2030 is centered on the launch of RIA. A large portion of this will go toward setting up the new carrier and any necessary infrastructure.