Delta says it plans to start operating flights between the US and Saudi Arabia

An Airbus A220 is sprayed as part of deicing training for Delta Air Lines employees in preparation for winter weather at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, September 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)
An Airbus A220 is sprayed as part of deicing training for Delta Air Lines employees in preparation for winter weather at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, September 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Delta Air Lines says it has entered into a partnership with startup Riyadh Air with the goal of operating flights between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh Air, which plans to begin passenger flights next summer, is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund and is part of the country’s plan to diversify its oil-based economy and boost tourism.

Atlanta-based Delta and Riyadh did not give a timetable for beginning flights or financial details around their partnership. Their CEOs said neither airline is taking an ownership stake in the other.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian and Riyadh Air CEO Tony Douglas say they envision selling tickets on each other’s flights — a practice known as codesharing — that requires approval from the US Transportation Department.

No US airline flies to Saudi Arabia. Saudia, the kingdom’s flag carrier, operates nonstop flights between Saudi Arabia and New York, Dulles International Airport outside Washington, and Los Angeles.

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