Peter Bellew, the former Ryanair and EasyJet executive, has been named the chief operating officer of Riyadh Air, the new airline that is being launched by the Saudi Arabian government.
he carrier, formally unveiled this week, is aiming to make Riyadh a hub for traffic between Asia, Africa and Europe.
By 2030, it expects to serve 100 destinations.
Mr Bellew, from Co Meath, was CEO of Malaysia Airlines before rejoining Ryanair in 2017 as chief operations officer. He was hired by Michael O’Leary as Ryanair dealt with pilot unrest that ultimately resulted in company-wide union recognition.
In 2019, Mr Bellew announced that he was leaving Ryanair and later said he would be joining EasyJet as its chief operating officer. Ryanair tried to enforce a non-compete clause, taking a case against Mr Bellew in the High Court. But Mr Bellew won, with the High Court ruling a non-complete clause in his contract was not enforceable.
Mr Bellew resigned from EasyJet last year.
Riyadh Air, backed by the Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, will be the second flag carrier in the country, with the government already owning airline Saudia.
Riyadh Air has agreed to buy 39 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with an option to purchase an additional 33.
“This agreement is part of Saudi Arabia’s wider strategic plan to transform the country into a global aviation hub,” said Boeing in a statement confirming the deal.
Saudi carriers yesterday announced that they will buy a total of up to 121 Dreamliners, in what will be the fifth largest commercial order by value in Boeing’s history. Saudi Arabian airlines are hoping to carry a total of 330 million passengers and attract 100 million tourists by 2030.
Saud Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, with assets of about $620bn (€579bn).
The wealth fund said Riyadh Air will “usher in a new era for the travel and aviation industry globally and will provide tourists from around the world the opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia’s cultural and natural attractions”.
Riyadh Air’s CEO is Tony Douglas, a former executive at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad.