|Frequent-flyer program||Al Fursan Loyalty|
|Fleet size||159 [105 planes on order (including confirmed options)]|
|Parent company||Government of Saudi Arabia|
|Headquarters||Jeddah, Saudi Arabia|
Saudia (Arabic: السعودية as-Suʿūdiyyah), formerly known as Saudi Arabian Airlines (الخطوط الجوية العربية السعودية), is the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, based in Jeddah. The airline's main operational base is at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah. King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh and King Fahd International Airport in Dammam are secondary hubs. The airline is the third largest in the Middle East in terms of revenue, behind Emirates and Qatar Airways. It operates domestic and international scheduled flights to over 85 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. It joined the SkyTeam airline alliance on 29 May 2012. Saudia is a member and one of the founders of the Arab Air Carriers Organization. 
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 as a fully owned government agency under the control of the Ministry of Defense, with TWA (Trans World Airlines) running the airline under a management contract.
The now-demolished Kandara Airport, which was close to Jeddah, served as the flag carrier's main base. Among the airline's early operations was a special flight from Lydda (Lod) in Palestine (today 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 in the same month. Service to Damascus and Beirut followed in early 1948. The following year the first of five Bristol 170s was received. These aircraft offered the airline the flexibility of carrying both passengers and cargo.
In 1962, the airline took delivery of two Boeing 720s, becoming the fourth Middle Eastern airline to fly jet aircraft, after Middle East Airlines and Cyprus Airways with the de Havilland Comet in 1960 and El Al with the Boeing 707 in 1961. 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, Mumbai, 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 737s and Fokker F-28s were bought, with the 737s replacing the Douglas DC-9. The airline operated their first Boeing 747s service in 1977 when three Jumbo Jets were leased from Middle East Airlines and deployed on the London sector. 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.
In the 1980s services such as Saudia Catering began. Flights were started to Jakarta, 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. 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. In 1989 services to Larnaca and Addis Ababa began. On 1 July 1982, the first nonstop service from Jeddah to New York City was initiated with Boeing 747SP aircraft. This was followed by a Riyadh-New York route.
In the 1990s, services to Orlando, Chennai, Asmara, Washington, D.C., Johannesburg, Alexandria, Milan, Málaga (seasonal), and Sanaa (resumption) were introduced. 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.
Development since the 2000s
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 Aviation 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.
In 2006, Saudia began the process of dividing itself into Strategic Business Units (SBU); the catering unit was the first to be privatized. 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.
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.
In April 2016, Saudia announced the creation of a low-cost subsidiary, Flyadeal. The airline was launched as part of Saudia Group's SV2020 Transformation Strategy, which intends to transform the group's units into world-class organisations by 2020. Flyadeal serves domestic and regional destinations, began flights in mid-2017.
- World's Most Improved Airline' in 2017 by SkyTrax
Saudia was main sponsor of the 2018 and 2019 Diriyah ePrix
|Airbus A320neo||—||30||TBA||Order with 35 options.|
|Saudia Cargo Fleet|
|Boeing 747-400BDSF||2||—||Operated by Air ACT.|
|Saudia Albayraq Fleet|
|Airbus A319-100||3||—||–||48||–||48||Operates between Jeddah and Riyadh|
Saudia formerly operated the following aircraft:
|Airbus A319-100||2||2007||2017||Leased from Czech Airlines|
|Boeing 727-100||1||1976||2000s||Operated for Saudi Arabian Royal Flight|
|Boeing 747-300||19||1983||2013||Eighth aircraft stored.|
1st aircraft used as VIP/Government transport.
|Embraer ERJ-170||15||2005||2016||All aircraft stored|
|Lockheed L1011 Tristar||24||1977||1998|
|Lockheed L1011 Tristar 500||2||1970s||Unknown||Operated for Saudi Arabian Royal Flight|
|McDonnell Douglas DC-8 series||37||1977||1998|
|McDonnell Douglas DC-9||3||1967||1972|
|McDonnell Douglas DC-10||1||1975||1990s|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-11F||4||1998||2014||All aircraft stored|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-11||2||1998||2013||Operated for Saudi Arabian Royal Flight|
|McDonnell Douglas MD-90-30||29||1998||2013||Two aircraft stored|
Saudia Special Flight Services, VIP flights, and Private Aviation operate the following, a number of which sport the airline's livery
|Beechcraft Bonanza||6||—||Used for flight training|
|Dassault Falcon 900||2||—||Used for government transport|
|Dassault Falcon 7X||4||—||Used for charter transport|
|Gulfstream IV||6||—||Used for government transport|
|Hawker 400XP||6||—||Used for government transport|
Additionally Saudia Royal Flight division operates larger aircraft of government and the royal family under Saudia flight code and colour scheme (except for a single aircraft), these include
|1||Not in Saudia livery|
|Boeing 757-200||1||—||Used for flying hospital|
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. Since 2017 two mobile escalators (TEC Hünert MFT 500-01) travel with the King and transported by separate aircraft.
The inflight magazine of Saudia is called Ahlan Wasahlan (أهلاً وسهلاً "Hello and Welcome"). No alcoholic beverages or pork are served on board in accordance with Islamic dietary laws. Its selected Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft are equipped with Wi-Fi and mobile network portability on board. Most aircraft also offer onboard specialized prayer areas and a recorded prayer is played prior to takeoff.
Incidents and accidents
- On 25 September 1959, a Saudia Douglas DC-4/C-54A-5-DO (registration HZ-AAF), performed a belly landing shortly after take-off from the old Jeddah Airport. The cause of the accident was gust locks not deactivated by the mechanic, followed by a stall. All 67 passengers and 5 crew survived.
- On 9 February 1968, a Douglas C-47 (reg. HZ-AAE) was damaged beyond economic repair at an unknown location.
- On 10 November 1970, a Douglas DC-3 on a flight from Amman Civil Airport, Jordan to King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was hijacked and diverted to Damascus Airport, Syria.
- On 11 July 1972, a Douglas C-47B (reg. HZ-AAK) was damaged beyond economic repair in an accident at Tabuk Airport.
- On 2 January 1976, Saudia Flight 5130, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30CF, leased from ONA undershot the runway at Istanbul, Turkey, crash landed, tearing off the #1 engine and causing the left wing to catch fire. All passengers and crew evacuated safely. The aircraft was written off.
- On 19 August 1980, Saudia Flight 163, a Lockheed L-1011-200 TriStar (HZ-AHK), 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.
- On 5 April 1984, a Saudia Lockheed L-1011 TriStar on final approach to Damascus from Jeddah was hijacked by a Syrian national. The hijacker demanded to be taken to Istanbul, Turkey but changed his mind and requested to go to Stockholm, Sweden. After landing in Istanbul to refuel, the hijacker was arrested after the pilot pushed him out of the emergency exit.
- On 12 November 1996, a Saudia Boeing 747-100B (HZ-AIH), operating flight 763, was involved in the 1996 Charkhi Dadri mid-air collision. The aircraft was on its way from New Delhi, India, to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia when a Kazakhstan Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 (UN-76435) collided with it over the village of Charkhi Dadri, some miles west of New Delhi. Flight 763 was carrying 312 people, all of whom, along with 37 more on the Kazakh aircraft, died, for a grand total of 349 fatalities. The loss of Flight 763 alone remains Saudia's worst accident in terms of fatalities. The accident overall also remains the world's deadliest mid-air collision.
- On 14, October 2000, Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight 115, flying from Jeddah to London was hijacked en route by two men who claimed they were armed with explosives. The hijackers commandeered the Boeing 777-200ER (HZ-AKH) to Baghdad, Iraq, where all 90 passengers and 15 crew members were safely released. The two hijackers, identified as Lieutenant Faisal Naji Hamoud Al-Bilawi and First Lieutenant Ayesh Ali Hussein Al-Fareedi, both Saudi citizens, were arrested and later extradited to Saudi Arabia in 2003.
- On 23 August 2001, at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, a Boeing 747-300 (reg. 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, but the aircraft was written off
- 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. 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."
- On 25 May 2008, an Air Atlanta Icelandic aircraft operating for Saudi Arabian Airlines as Flight 810 (TF-ARS) 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. Only minor injuries were incurred. Investigations revealed a fuel leak where the fuel enters the front spar for engine number three.
- On 5 January 2014, a leased Boeing 767 operating under Saudia was forced to make an emergency landing at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz Airport in Medina after landing gear failed to deploy. 29 people were injured in the incident.
- 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.
- On April 11, 2017, Saudi Airlines was at the center of controversy when the airline allowed Dina Ali Lasloom to be forced onto a flight from Manila to Riyadh. Lasloom was attempting to seek asylum in Australia however was detained in Manila. An airline security official told Human Rights Watch that he saw two airline security officials and three apparently Middle Eastern men enter the hotel and go to her room, which he said was near the lobby. He said he heard her screaming and begging for help from her room, after which he saw them carry her out with duct tape on her mouth, feet, and hands. He said she was still struggling to break free when he saw them put her in a wheelchair and take her out of the hotel. The pilots and crew of which were reportedly aware and supportive of Lasloom being returned to Riyadh against her will, siding heavily with her uncles. Passengers in route to Riyadh began reporting on social media that there was a hostage aboard, prompting the governments of Oman and Qatar to refuse the aircraft passage through their airspace. While only confirmed to confidential sources and not officially verified, this is supported by flight path records, which show an abrupt change in direction and trajectory to avoid the airspace of Oman and Qatar.
- On 21 May 2018, an Onur Air leased Airbus A330-200 (reg TC-OCH), operating as flight 3818 from Medina to Dhaka, was diverted to Jeddah after suffering a malfunction with the nose landing gear. It was forced to make a belly landing. No injuries were reported.
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Saudi Arabia's national carrier Saudia will take delivery of 30 aircraft this year, according to a Jan. 17 statement.
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Media related to Saudi Arabian Airlines at Wikimedia Commons