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Riyadh Air Finds New Codeshare Partner With Turkish Airlines in Nod to Geopolitical Relationship Between Saudi Arabia and Türkiye

Riyadh Air Finds New Codeshare Partner With Turkish Airlines in Nod to Geopolitical Relationship Between Saudi Arabia and Türkiye

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Riyadh Air has signed up its first codeshare partner outside of Saudi Arabia as part of a wider collaboration with Turkish Airlines and a nod to the growing political closeness between the Kingdom and Türkiye.

On Monday, the two airlines announced they had reached a memorandum of understanding on strategic cooperation, which will include a comprehensive interline and codeshare agreement, as well as ‘broader synergies and efficiencies’ in cargo, aviation-related services and digital development.

Riyadh Air is still at least 18 months from launching, but the deal with Turkish Airlines envisions members of each airline’s loyalty programmes being able to earn points when travelling on a codeshare flight with the other airline.

Bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, Riyadh Air is hardly a struggling startup, but this agreement with Turkish Airlines will provide valuable feeder traffic on its own flights.

The deal could also see the Istanbul-based carrier provide Riyadh Air with maintenance and engineering services while it establishes its own inhouse facilities.

Riyadh Air CEO Tony Douglas suggested the codeshare agreement would encompass vast swathes of route network for both carriers.

“Our close relationship will open up seamless connectivity via the global-leading hub at Istanbul Airport to some 130 destinations worldwide, especially within Türkiye, Europe and the Americas and accelerate our network footprint,” Douglas commented on Monday.

“Bilateral agreements with established network airlines are extremely important to Riyadh Air and there are significant benefits to this partnership,” Douglas continued.

Riyadh Air has also signed a codeshare and strategic cooperation agreement with flag carrier Saudia, which will see the two airlines ‘optimize routes’ – which could refer to ensuring that the carriers don’t compete with one another.

Douglas says Riyadh Air’s strategy isn’t to go after transit passengers who are connecting through the Middle East – an already saturated market led by Emirates and Qatar Airways, as well as Etihad Airways.

Instead, the airline intends to focus on point-to-point traffic as part of Saudi Arabia’s gamble to diversify its economy with inbound tourism.

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