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Is PIF considering acquiring the national airline Saudia?

According to a report, PIF may add Saudia to its aviation investments next year to enhance the airline's profitability and efficiency.

Is PIF considering acquiring the national airline Saudia?
[Source photo: Krishna Prasad/Fast Company Middle East]

Saudi Arabia is making a major push into tourism to diversify its oil-reliant economy and attract a staggering 150 million tourists annually by 2030.

A central figure in this strategy is the Public Investment Fund (PIF), overseeing the transformation of Riyadh’s airport into a global hub and launching ventures like aircraft leasing and helicopter companies. According to Bloomberg, PIF is considering acquiring Saudia, the country’s national carrier; discussions are in their early stages and could be delayed or abandoned altogether. 

The reported move for PIF, which oversees $925 billion in assets, would track with its goals to pour investment into tourism and transport assets and improve the airline’s profitability and efficiency.

According to the report, the airline might be privatized, merged with the newly established Riyadh Air (owned by PIF), or retain its current structure. PIF has not yet disclosed its valuation of Saudia, which currently operates a fleet of 142 aircraft across 90 global destinations.

This potential acquisition aligns with Saudi Arabia’s ambitions to position itself as a global aviation hub. 

Riyadh Air, spearheaded by PIF, is expected to expand its network and challenge regional giants. Meanwhile, Saudia appears to be focusing on serving religious pilgrimages. Notably, both airlines placed a joint order for 78 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in 2023, valued at over $37 billion.

Founded in 1945, Saudia has a fleet of 144 aircraft — 93 Airbus planes and 51 made by Boeing — and flies to more than 100 destinations, according to its website.

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