Saudia receives first Dreamliners as kingdom’s aviation industry expands

Airline expects to carry 30 million passengers this year

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has received its first Boeing Dreamliners as part of efforts to increase its fleet from 119 planes to 200 by 2020.

The Saudi national carrier received two Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and a 777-300ER, while a third Dreamliner will be delivered to Saudia within the next week.

Saudia upped its expansion efforts last year with the delivery of 50 aircraft from Airbus as part of an $8.2bn deal – the largest aviation deal to be secured via Islamic financing.

The airline said it expects to carry more than 30 million passengers in 2016.

With the kingdom’s aviation sector seeing significant growth, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority has begun privatisation plans, starting with part of Riyadh’s King Khaled International Airport this year, to support state finances amid the oil price slump.

The authority also plans to privatise Jeddah and Dammam airports by 2017.

Saudi Arabia has already privatised units of Saudi Airlines Catering and Saudi Ground Services.