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Riyadh Air is trying to use its geographic position to attract fliers

Boeing aircraft under construction at a facility in Everett, Wash.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—This oil rich kingdom unveiled a new international airline called Riyadh Air, aiming to compete with a handful of other Middle Eastern carriers that have used their geography to build world-class airlines and attract business travelers and tourists.

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, is close to committing to a big order of Boeing Co. BA 0.15%increase; green up pointing triangle jets to underpin the new airline, The Wall Street Journal first reported over the weekend. A deal, which could be announced as early as this week, would be a boon for the aircraft maker and a big bet by Riyadh that it can compete in an already-crowded regional aviation market.

The new airline—and the billions of dollars in jet purchases it will require—comes as Saudi coffers swell on the back of higher crude prices. The windfall has helped Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman push ahead on some of his most ambitious efforts in trying to diversify the economy away from the booms and busts that come with its prodigious oil industry.

Separately on Sunday, Saudi Arabian Oil Co., known better as Aramco, reported record annual profit of $161 billion for 2022, the largest ever by an energy firm. The bumper earnings reflect a turnaround for the industry—and petrostates such as Saudi Arabia—after the Ukraine war lifted oil prices and upended commodity flows.

Excerpt from WSJ
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