Delta and Riyadh Air Sign Agreement to Expand Travel Options to Saudi Arabia

Delta Air Lines, the Atlanta-based air carrier with a major hub at Detroit Metro Airport, and Riyadh Air, Saudi Arabia’s new full-service global carrier, have signed an agreement with the goal of expanding travel between North American, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and beyond.
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An agreement between Delta Air Lines and Riyadh Air is expected to expand travel between North America and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. // Photo courtesy of Delta

Delta Air Lines, the Atlanta-based air carrier with a major hub at Detroit Metro Airport, and Riyadh Air, Saudi Arabia’s new full-service global carrier, have signed an agreement with the goal of expanding travel between North American, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and beyond.

The agreement, signed Tuesday at Delta’s World Headquarters in Atlanta, serves as the foundation for a partnership that will enable both airlines to strengthen connectivity, expand their networks, and drive future growth when Riyadh Air begins operations in 2025.

“This partnership with Riyadh Air will further Delta’s mission of connecting the world and open an array of new choices, benefits and destinations for our customers traveling to and from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” says Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta. “Most importantly, Riyadh Air shares Delta’s commitment to providing an elevated customer experience, which is why we’re looking forward to building and expanding this partnership in the months and years ahead.

“We appreciate the opportunity to work with the Riyadh Air team and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia as they transform the transportation economy in the Kingdom.”

According to the airlines, the agreement envisions a long-term relationship, subject to regulatory approvals, that includes interline and codeshare connectivity, as well as a deeper partnership encompassing loyalty, customer experience, digital transformation, and broader aviation services such as maintenance, repair and overhaul services, ground handling, and training.

In the future, the airlines say they intend to explore an immunized joint venture to further expand the partnership and allow collaboration on network planning and growth in the region. Both airlines say they are committed to driving the best sustainability practices throughout their operations as they transform the future of travel.

“We look forward to enjoying a very warm and productive relationship with Delta Air Lines, one of the largest and most successful airlines in the world,” says Tony Douglas, CEO of Riyadh Air.  “Riyadh Air and Delta Air Lines share common goals and pursue the highest standards in many areas including guest experience, loyalty, and sustainability, built upon great networks and strong connectivity.”

The partnership is expected to open new destinations in Saudi Arabia and beyond for Delta customers, including future nonstop service on Delta between the U.S. and King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh. It will provide leisure travelers with a new region of the world to explore while creating new opportunities for business travelers to Riyadh, a G20 capital city, plus destinations beyond. And it will offer Delta’s leading North American network for Riyadh Air customers, offering convenient access to hundreds of destinations in the U.S. and beyond with Delta’s reliability and elevated service.

The new partnership comes as large-scale, ongoing investments in the Kingdom are transforming it into an and attractive destination for both leisure and business travelers.

Travel is central to the nation’s long-term economic growth plan, with an $800 billion investment in the tourism sector that includes development of luxury resorts on the Red Sea, the opening of the Diriyah and al-Ula historical site to visitors, and the hosting of the 2030 Riyadh Expo.

Riyadh Air says it’s committed to building a premier carrier for customers traveling to and from the Middle East, with its base of operations in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Delta marks its 100th anniversary next year.

“It’s fitting that Riyadh Air will begin its journey the same year that Delta launches our second century of flight,” Bastian says. “We’ll have many opportunities to learn from each other and become better airlines for our mutual customers, our employees, our investors and our communities as we fly forward together.”