DALLAS — In a historic move set at the ICAO Air Services Negotiation Event (ICAN 2023) in Riyadh, Turkish Airlines (TK) and Riyadh Air (RX) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to redefine air travel between both countries.
This alliance, sealed by Turkish Airlines CTO Levent Konukcu and Riyadh Air CEO Tony Douglas, promises an array of benefits for passengers while laying the foundation for future collaborations.
While the regulatory approvals are pending, the partnership anticipates takeoff after Riyadh’s Air plans to launch in mid-2025, offering seamless connections through extensive interline and codeshare agreements.
Featuring the integration of the loyalty programs, thus allowing members to accrue points or credits when traversing the codeshare network, further plans are also underway to explore comprehensive loyalty agreements.
Levent Konukcu, Turkish Airlines Chief Investment and Technology Officer, stated, “This Memorandum of Understanding is more than a collaboration; it’s a bridge between Türkiye and Saudi Arabia, further strengthening our ties. It’s also an opportunity to expand our reach and offer our guests more choices and convenience. We believe this partnership will not only benefit our customers but also significantly contribute to the tourism and business sectors of both countries.”
Echoing this sentiment, Riyadh Air CEO Tony Douglas highlighted the transformative impact of this agreement, extending to broader synergies across the aviation value chain, encompassing cargo, digital developments, aviation-related services, and connectivity facilitated through Turkish Airlines’ global-leading hub at Istanbul Airport (IST). He added, “Turkish Airlines is a world-class aviation brand, and we are proud that they wish to play a part in the Riyadh Air story.”
The monumental moment marks the first major agreement with an airline outside of Saudi Arabia, which aligns with the Public Investment Fund’s (PIF) mandate to diversify the country’s economy; the partnership also supports the Saudi Aviation Strategy’s vision and the National Tourism Strategy.
Anticipating an influx of tourism, religious pilgrimages, and business travel to the Kingdom, the collaboration aims to further unlock the country’s cultural and natural treasures for global tourists and mark a new pinnacle in international aviation.
Featured image: Riyadh Air CEO, Tony Douglas with Turkish Airlines CTO Levent Konukcu announcing the partnership. Photo: Riyadh Air