Saudia Arabia’s newest airline Riyadh Air has formed a partnership with US carrier Delta as it seeks to build a significant network of destinations ahead of its commercial launch next year. 

The new airline will serve as Delta’s exclusive partner in Riyadh, and Delta its sole partner in North America, under the Strategic Cooperation Memorandum of Understanding covering interline and codeshare agreements. 

Riyadh Air CEO Tony Douglas said: “We look forward to enjoying a very warm and productive relationship with Delta Air Lines, one of the largest and most successful airlines in the world. 

“Riyadh Air and Delta Air Lines share common goals and pursue the highest standards in many areas including guest experience, loyalty, and sustainability, built upon great networks and strong connectivity.” 

The partnership, while subject to regulatory approvals, is hoped to be the beginning of a long-term relationship between the two airlines featuring nonstop services between the US and King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, and connections to the wider Middle East. 

The airlines also said that future plans will include an “immunised joint venture” to further expand the relationship with collaborations on network planning in the Saudi region. 

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Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta, said: “This partnership with Riyadh Air will further Delta’s mission of connecting the world and open an array of new choices, benefits and destinations for our customers traveling to and from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

“Most importantly, Riyadh Air shares Delta’s commitment to providing an elevated customer experience, which is why we’re looking forward to building and expanding this partnership in the months and years ahead.” 

Despite still being about a year away from its first passenger-carrying flight, Riyadh Air has signed a slew of high-profile agreements to expand its network and brand recognition around the world. 

In addition to Delta, the airline has also added IBM as a technology partner and signed a multi-year sponsorship agreement with Atlético de Madrid, one of the biggest deals in the football industry

The news also came as Riyadh Air CEO Tony Douglas told media outlets that the airline was targeting “well over 100 destinations” for its network, including direct flights to Australia and New Zealand in the long term.