A CEO for the new airline may have already been identified, according to media reports. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: Saudi Arabia is on the lookout for a CEO for its new national airline, which will be based in Riyadh. Current and former chiefs at American, European, and Middle Eastern airlines have been approached before deciding not to get involved, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday. A board has been selected and advisers retained to help move things forward.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF), the country’s sovereign wealth fund responsible for establishing the new carrier, may have identified a new candidate and an announcement may be made in the fourth quarter, Bloomberg said, citing a source. With the new national carrier, Saudi Arabia plans to target international transit passenger traffic, going head-to-head with regional giants like Emirates airline, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines.

Saudi Arabia is planning to increase transit traffic to 30 million by 2030 – the country’s airports handled around 3 million transit passengers in 2019. The Kingdom, which aims to have 100 million tourists every year by 2030, is investing heavily in its tourism sector. Some ‘giga-projects’ include an investment of $500 billion into NEOM, a futuristic city designed to be sustainable; a $10 billion investment into an entertainment project called Qiddiyah Project; and the Red Sea Project which will feature 90 islands.