Riyadh Air Joins The UN’s Global Compact Scheme Before Operating A Single Flight

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  • Riyadh Air has committed to the United Nations Global Compact.
  • The airline promised to issue annual reports as part of its commitment to the sustainable development principles.
  • Riyadh Air, part of Saudi Vision 2030, aims to launch operations in 2025.

Riyadh Air has joined the United Nations (UN) Global Compact scheme even before the Saudi Arabian airline operated its first flight. The airline has pledged to make the UN compact’s principles part of its strategy and daily operations.

17 sustainability goals and principles

Tony Douglas, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Riyadh Air, told Simple Flying on the sidelines of the Center for Aviation (CAPA) Airline Leader Summit – Airlines In Transition event in Granda, Spain, that the airline has joined the UN Global Compact on March 5, 2024.

According to Douglas, the airline has also signed up for the 17 sustainable development goals, with the executive adding that some airlines have committed to a number of them. However, Riyadh Air has pledged to include all 17 principles in its daily operations, incorporating them retroactively.

A Riyadh Air aircraft in Paris

Photo: Riyadh Air

In a letter to Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the UN, which was published publicly by the organization, Douglas told Guterres that Riyadh Air firmly supports the ‘Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact’ on human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption.

“With this communication, we express our strong commitment to making the UN Global Compact and its principles part of the strategy, culture, and day-to-day operations of our company, and to engaging in collaborative projects which advance the broader development goals of the United Nations, particularly, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.”


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Communicating with the UN

Douglas, who signed the letter to Guterres, stated that Riyadh Air will make continuous statements about its commitments to its stakeholders and the general public. The executive added that the airline realizes that one of the requirements to participate in the UN Global Compact is the publication of an annual report of communication on progress (CoP) describing its efforts to implement the Ten Principles.

A Riyadh Air Boeing 787-9 in an aircraft hangar.

Photo: Riyadh Air

Furthermore, Douglas emphasized that Riyadh Air supports public accountability and transparency, therefore it was ready to commit to publish its progress report a calendar year after its joining date. Subsequently, Riyadh Air will publicize the reports annually.


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Starting operations in 2025

When the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched Riyadh Air in March 2023 and ordered 72 Boeing 787-9 aircraft the following day, the airline said its first aircraft would be delivered in early 2025.

The airline was launched as part of the country’s Vision 2030 project, aimed at transitioning the country’s economy from oil into the services industry, including tourism. Another project is the new airport in Riyadh, King Salman International.

New Riyadh airport render inside the building

Photo: Foster + Partners

Based on the grounds currently used by the King Khalid International Airport (RUH), the new airport aims to enhance the city’s connectivity globally. Speaking at the Arab Aviation Summit in February, Mark Van Doorne, the Vice President of Master Planning at King Salman International Airport Development Company, said that RUH is already capacity-constrained, which is why the new airport was being developed.

By 2030, King Salman International Airport should welcome up to 120 million passengers, with the airport having six parallel runways. The site will cover an area of around 57 square kilometers (22 square miles) and, by 2050, should welcome 185 million travelers and up to 3.5 million tons of cargo.


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