Saudia Airlines commemorates the founding king’s first flight

National carrier celebrated King Abdul Aziz’s first flight in 1945 with a special Boeing B777-300 flight from Riyadh to Taif

Saudi airline. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle. Imgae used for illustrative purpose

Saudi airline. Image courtesy Dubai Media Office Twitter handle. Imgae used for illustrative purpose

RIYADH: Saudia Airlines celebrated the 76th anniversary of King Abdul Aziz bin Abdulrahman’s first flight on Thursday as a special Boeing B777-300 — decorated with an airline logo from the 1970s and 1980s era — flew from the capital in Riyadh to Taif.

The flight was a commemoration of the first flight the founding king took on Sunday, Sept. 30, 1945, from Afif to Hawiyah in a Douglas DC-3 aircraft. That aircraft was a gift received by King Abdul Aziz during a meeting with then US president President Franklin Roosevelt.

Saudia marked the occasion on the ground and in the air. A statue of King Abdul Aziz was installed in the departure hall at King Khalid International Airport, while airline staff handed out souvenirs and printed boarding passes in the old traditional style.

Onboard the flight, guests were entertained with Saudi national songs as the crew distributed a special package for each passenger that included a special issue of the Umm Al-Qura newspaper with details from the first historical aviation journey of King Abdul Aziz.

The airline’s emergence has been linked to the Kingdom’s developmental renaissance, since the historic meeting between King Abdul Aziz and Roosevelt in 1945. That first Douglas DC-3 aircraft formed the nucleus of Saudia’s fleet, which grew into an international airline and became one of the leaders of air transport in the Middle East.

Saudia went on to become one of the most influential international aviation organizations as it connected all parts of the Kingdom with a network of regular flights and extended air bridges to various other continents.

This celebration coincided with Saudia being named World’s Most Improved Airline at the Skytrax 2021 Awards for the second time in four years, in addition to celebrating the Diamond Jubilee marking the 75th anniversary of its founding.

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