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Former CEO Etihad has departed RIA confirms

RIA in Saudi Arabia reports that Tony Douglas, a former CEO of Etihad, has already departed.

Will this setback cause the airline to launch later than planned?

Just two months after taking the helm of Saudi Arabia’s national airline, RIA, Tony Douglas, the former CEO of Etihad Airways, has resigned. The firm that has received public backing is currently looking for a new CEO and plans to begin operations in the next months.

Tony Douglas, CEO of the RIA, departs

As first reported by Arabian Business, the seasoned airline executive resigned from his new role as CEO of RIA after around two months.

As Simple Flying revealed in September, Tony Douglas departed Etihad to join the ambitious Saudi Arabian startup RIA, which has enormous hopes to compete with the big three in the Middle East—Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways.

Arabian Business was informed by sources close to the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia that Douglas was “no longer connected” with the airline, although the sources did not provide an explanation.

After serving as CEO of Etihad for more than four years, Douglas stepped down. He is credited with putting in place effective cost-cutting measures that helped the airline cut down on its enormous losses.

Launched slowly

The Saudi Arabian government’s “Vision 2030” includes RIA as a key component. The new carrier has its eye on scores of new aircraft, including a deal for 40 Airbus A350s and options for another 40 through sister airline SAUDIA.

RIA has not yet started operations despite promising an end-of-2022 launch. The airline’s extraordinarily ambitious and quick expansion could be a factor, however the cause is unknown. According to a source at the airline, the CEO “will have to deliver the most ambitious targets you can conceive” before being named.

Where is RIA headed?

A second flag carrier that will be supported by a massive $30 billion investment from the nation’s PIF is being planned by Saudi Arabian authorities, raising eyebrows.

RIA will be based in Riyadh while the present national airline, SAUDIA, is based in Jeddah, with an initial debut date of 2024 that was first delayed to Q4 2022 and then delayed again.

The firm, RIA, had expected to launch by the end of 2022, according to its most recent announcement in November, but this definitely didn’t happen; the launch is now most likely to occur in the near future.

Prior to extending its worldwide network and long-haul fleet, RIA will initially concentrate on establishing itself regionally with a fleet of Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320 aircraft.

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