The Saudi Arabian Airlines is the flag carrier of Saudi Arabia with its base of operations at King Abdul-Aziz International Airport in Jeddah. Secondary headquarters are situated at King Khalid International Airport and King Fahd International Airport in Riyadh and Dammam respectively.

Saudi Airlines is third largest in terms of revenue in all Middle East and covers above 120 destinations in the MENA region, Europe and Asia. Special domestic and international charter flights are operated during Ramadan and Hajj season when people from all over the world fly to the country.

Saudi Arabian Airlines is a member of the Arab Air Carriers Organisation and SkyTeam that formed an airline alliance in May, 2012. Besides the reliable service and affordability, flying with Saudi Airlines is truly a remarkable experience every time. Check out the history and evolution to know more!

Early days

In 1945, American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt gifted King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud with a Douglas DC-3 that marked the gradual development and expansion of civil aviation. In September 1945, Saudi Arabian Airline was founded, operated under the Ministry of Defence and owned completely by the government.

During that time, the Jeddah-Kandara airport served as a base of operations for the airline. A special flight from Lydda, Palestine carried Hajj pilgrims to Jeddah with scheduled operations using five DC-3 aircrafts. The first international service was launched in March 1947 that operated between Jeddah and Cairo followed by flights to Damascus and Beirut in early 1948.

Saudi Airlines received first of the five Bristol 170s offering the flexibility to carry both, passengers and cargo. Gradual expansion of flight operations accelerated during the 1950s that resulted flights to and from Amman, Istanbul, Kuwait, Asmara, Karachi and Port Sudan.

With services, the fleet also grew during the 1950s with an addition of DC-4s and Convair 340s being first of the pressurised aircrafts. The first fully equipped maintenance centre was inaugurated in Jeddah in 1959.

The delivery of two Boeing 720s took place in 1962 with Saudi Arabian Airline becoming the fourth Middle Eastern airline to soar the jet aircraft. The airline became a registered company in 1963 after King Faisal of Saudi Arabia signed official declaration of the airline becoming a fully independent company.

Developments since 2000

The Saudi Minister of Defence and Aviation; Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud in October 2000 signed a contract to execute privatisation of the Saudi Arabian Airlines. As a preparation, retransformation of airline and its non-core units that were ground handling services, maintenance, Saudi catering and Prince Sultan Flight Academy commenced.

The airline achieved operational profits in 2002 that doubled in 2003. A 14 percent rise in profit was experienced in 2004 when more than 15 million passengers travelled to various destinations. Following the same year in April, Saudi Arabian Airlines ordered a fleet of Embraer E-170LR which was a deal worth $400 million.

In 2006, Saudi Airlines began process of privatisation into Strategic Business Units with the catering unit being the first. The Council of Ministers of the airline approved conversion of these strategic units into companies in 2007. According to the plan, ground services, air cargo, technical services, medical division, catering unit and Prince Sultan Aviation Academy were to become subsidiaries of a holding corporation.

In May 2012, the airline reverted to its English brand name that is Saudia from the typical Saudi Arabian Airline as a celebration of the company entering the SkyTeam airline alliance. All of this was part of a much bigger rebranding initiative.


The amazing history, years of expansion and success of Saudia are compelling enough to book a flight today and experience the best flying ever.