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IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1945; 70 years ago (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 Arab Air Carriers Organization. The airline joined 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]


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 Boeing 720s, becoming the third Middle Eastern airline to fly jet aircraft, after 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, 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.[citation needed]


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)
Main article: Saudia destinations
Countries with destinations of Saudia (including seasonal and future destinations).
  Saudi Arabia
  Saudia Destinations

Codeshare and alliance[edit]

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
Saudia fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Notes
F J Y Total
Airbus A319-100 0 2 135 135 Leased
Airbus A320-200 35 30 0 12 120 132 HZ-ASF painted in SkyTeam livery
0 20 96 116
Airbus A321-200 15 0 20 145 165
Airbus A330-300 20 0 0 36 262 298 HZ-AQL painted in SkyTeam livery.
0 36 252 288
Boeing 747-400 18 0 32 402 434
Boeing 777-200ER 25 2 24 38 170 232

HZ-AKA painted in SkyTeam livery

0 14 327 341
Boeing 777-300ER 18 2 24 53 245 305
0 30 383 413
Boeing 787-9 8 TBA EIS: December 2015
Embraer ERJ-170 15 0 6 60 66
Saudia Cargo
Boeing 747-400BCF 2
Operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic[10]
Boeing 747-400BDSF 4
Operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic and MyCargo Airlines[10]
Boeing 747-400F 2
Operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic
Boeing 747-400ERF 2
Operated by MyCargo Airlines[10]
Boeing 747-8F 2
Boeing 777F 2 2
Entry in Service: April to December 2015[10]
Saudia Royal Flight
Airbus A340-200 1 VIP
Boeing 747-300 1 VIP
Boeing 747-400 1 VIP
Boeing 747-8 not confirmed VIP
Boeing 747SP 3 VIP
Boeing 757-200 1 VIP
Total 167 48

Former fleet[edit]

Saudia formerly operated the following aircraft:[11]

Fleet history
Aircraft Total Introduced Retired
Airbus A300-600 11 1984 2012
Airbus A310-300F 1 2010 2013
Airbus A319-100 1 2007 2008
Airbus A340-300 4 1999 2014
Boeing 707-320 ?? 196?  ????
Boeing 727-100 (VIP) 1 1976 200?
Boeing 737-200 26 1972 2007
Boeing 747-100 19 1981 2010
Boeing 747-200 33 1979 2012
Boeing 747-200F ?? 19?? 2012
Boeing 747-300 18 1985 2013
Boeing 747SP 2 1981 1992
Boeing 757-200 10 2008 2011
Boeing 767-200ER 5 2003 2012
Boeing 767-300ER 5 2012 2012
Convair 340 ?? 19?? 19??
Fokker F28 ?? 1977 19??
Lockheed L1011 Tristar 24 1977 1998
Lockheed L1011 Tristar 500 (VIP) 2 19?? ????
McDonnell Douglas DC-8-62/63F/72 37 1977 1998
McDonnell Douglas DC-9 3 1967 1972
McDonnell Douglas DC-10 1 1975 19??
McDonnell Douglas MD-11F 4 1998 2014
McDonnell Douglas MD-11 (VIP) 2 1998 2013
McDonnell Douglas MD-90 29 1998 2013

Introduction of new aircraft[edit]

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[edit]

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[citation needed]

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[edit]

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[edit]

  • 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 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]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Network Map Saudia. Retrieved 17 January 2013.
  2. ^ "Saudi Arabian Airlines Ground Services Company: Private Company Information". Businessweek. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Arabian Aerospace - Saudia plays the name game, joins the alliance and gets privatisation rolling". Arabian Aerospace. 29 May 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  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
  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. ^ a b c d "Saudia to wet-lease two more B747-400 freighters". ch-aviation. Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  11. ^ Saudi Arabian Airlines Fleet Details and History Plane Spotters. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  12. ^ "Our Fleet". Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  13. ^ "Mobile & WiFi". Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  14. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. 
  15. ^ "HZ-AAE Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 24 July 2011. 
  16. ^ "Hijacking description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  17. ^ "HZ-AAK Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 5 September 2010. 
  18. ^ "Accident Database: Accident Synopsis 12231980". Air Disaster. 23 December 1980. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  19. ^ "Accident information: Boeing 747 Saudi Arabian Airlines HZ-AIO". Airfleets. Retrieved 27 September 2010. 
  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 "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing 747-357 TF-ARS Dhaka-Zia International Airport (DAC)". Aircraft Safety Network. Retrieved 24 January 2010. 
  23. ^ "Saudi plane catches fire at ZIA". The Daily Star. 26 March 2008. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  24. ^ "Plane Crash Lands in Saudi Holy City". The Wall Street Journal. 
  25. ^ "Saudi Plane Makes Emergency Landing, 29 Hurt". Gulf Business. Reuters. 5 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 
  26. ^ "Saudia plane overshoots NAIA runway (MNL)". ABS CBN News. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Saudi Arabian Airlines at Wikimedia Commons