CHICAGO, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- An agreement to jointly pursue partnership opportunities in defense and commercial aviation has been signed by Boeing and Saudi Arabian Airlines Holding Co.
Boeing said the collaborative deal was signed Wednesday and opens the door to opportunities that will benefit customers and generate new business in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Areas to be explored for partnering include pilot and aircraft maintenance training, rotorcraft support, management and leadership training and manufacturing focused on the expansion of local presence and aerospace skill development in Saudi Arabia.
"We are pleased to sign this collaboration agreement with Boeing to support the transformation process Saudia is going through, and hope both Saudia and Boeing will get the anticipated commercial, economic and social benefits out of such collaboration," said Khalid Almolhem, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines.
Added Jim O'Neill, president, Global Services & Support, Boeing Defense, Space & Security: "This agreement builds on the well-established relationship between Boeing and Saudia and will enable us to enter into some exciting future business ventures. We look forward to collaborating with Saudia and expanding our training and service offerings for our customers."
In announcing the accord Boeing and the airline underlined a partnership that stretches nearly 70 years and which began with U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt giving a DC-3 Dakota to the kingdom.
The Douglas DC-3 was the cargo/troop carrying workhorse for U.S. military forces in World War II. The company later merged with McDonnell to form McDonnell Douglas before merging with Boeing.
The aircraft gifted to Saudi Arabia, with two later purchased planes, formed the nucleus of Saudi Arabian Airlines.
"This agreement will bring together the expertise of our companies and is aligned with our efforts to further strengthen and grow the local industry in the kingdom," said Ahmed Jazzar, president of Boeing Saudi Arabia. "Boeing's relationship with Saudia has spanned decades, and today we have come together to forge a path that will generate benefits for our companies and the people of Saudi Arabia for generations to come."
Saudi Arabian Airways operates more than 500 flights daily to domestic, regional and worldwide destinations. Among its aircraft are Boeing B747-400s and B777-200s.
Neither Boeing nor Saudi Arabian Airlines Holding Co. provided additional information on their collaborative agreement.
Boeing late last year forecast the Middle East market for commercial aircraft will grow significantly in the next two decades. The region's airlines will require more than 2,600 new aircraft, it said, which will be worth an estimated $550 billion, as carriers expand their fleets.
"Boeing is well-positioned to address demand in the Middle East," Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said in a news release in November. "Boeing airplanes provide airlines in the region with the capability to serve their expanding networks."