In a colorful function held at Boeing main offices in Seattle early Wednesday, Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has received four wide-body Boeing aircraft consisting of three B787-9 and a B777-300ER Dreamliners.
The latter was supposed to be delivered a week later, but the Saudia executives exerted strenuous efforts to expedite its delivery.
The function was attended by Solaiman bin Abdullah Al-Hamdan, president of the General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), who is the chairman of Saudia’s board of directors, Saudia Director General Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, the U.S. ambassador to the Saudi Arabia Joseph W. Westphal, president of Boeing commercial aircraft Raymond L. Conner, Saudi consul in Los Angeles Sami Sarhan, a number of diplomats, businessmen and journalists.
In a speech during the occasion, Conner praised Saudi-U.S. relationships especially in the field of aviation which were growing deeper with time since President Franklin Roosevelt granted King Abdul Aziz, the founder, the first DC-9 aircraft more than 70 years ago.
“Saudia is our main partner and we are very proud of this,” he added.
He said the B787-9 Dreamliner is the fastest growing and the most demanded aircraft at our present time.
Al-Hamdan, on his part, said the partnership between Saudia and Boeing is an important face of cooperation between the two countries which were laid down during the historic meeting between King Abdul Aziz and President Roosevelt in 1945.
“Since that time we have been receiving Boeing aircraft which reached 130 that played a pivotal role in the development of the national carrier,” he said.
Al-Jasser said with the delivery of the four Dreamliners, Saudia fleet will reach 126 after four aircraft were put on retirement.
“We are planning to raise up the number of our fleet to 200 aircraft. We have also signed an agreement to acquire 50 new Airbus aircraft and another one to send 5,000 Saudi students to study aviation in the U.S.,” he said.
Jasser said Saudia has braced itself for the arrival of the new Dreamliners by qualifying 65 pilots and a number of stewardesses and air hostesses.
“The new aircraft will enter the service next week after the necessary licenses have been obtained from GACA,” he said.
The aircraft have already left Seattle at mid-night Wednesday on their way to King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah where a big reception was waiting for them.
The B787-9 has 298 seats consisting of 24 for the first class and 274 for the hospitality class. It is well equipped to provide the maximum degree of comfort and entertainment for the passengers.