Many Saudi-owned aircraft still grounded after Ritz-Carlton crackdown


The Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Much of the Saudi Arabian business jet fleet is still grounded following so-called anti-corruption arrests in November.

Around 200 business people and members of the Saudi royal family were detained in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton late in the evening on November 4 2017. A significant number of them owned business jets with several being arrested after their private aircraft had landed at Riyadh airport.

At the same time a list of more than 60 aircraft was circulated to Saudi business jet operators stating which aircraft were no longer allowed to take-off. Most of the aircraft were registered in Saudi Arabia (with HZ registrations) but some were registered in the US and by off-shore aircraft registries. It is unclear if the list was issued by the General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia or published by another government department. But all operators have taken it seriously.

No operator has flown an aircraft on the list since November. Several flight departments for aircraft owned by individuals in the Ritz-Carlton have closed down.

The list has not changed even though most individuals have settled cases with the government. The Saudi attorney general says that 381 individuals were arrested. Some 56 people are still in custody.

Some of those who were released were let go without charges. Others reached financial agreements with the government. A statement released by the Saudi Press Agency said: “The attorney general has indicated that the estimated value of settlements currently stands at more than SAR 400 billion [$1 billion] represented in various types of assets, including real estate, commercial entities, securities, cash and other assets.”